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Subject:Re: ISO Standard for Warnings? From:"Huber, Mike" <mrhuber -at- SOFTWARE -dot- ROCKWELL -dot- COM> Date:Wed, 16 Apr 1997 15:53:16 -0500
Oops, I guess accidentally hitting the Send button in mid-composition rates
a minor Caution...
It might be wise to consider how the information translates into action.
Is there a significant difference, in terms of what we are telling the
reader to do, between a Warning and a Caution?
For my purposes, there isn't. Either of the two means Be Careful -
Something Bad Can Happen. If there is a need to get more specific about the
bad thing that can happen, spell it out. So we tend to use icons and other
typographical clues to alert the reader to information about possible Bad
Things, and then specify what the risks are.
Think about it:
Warning! Handling paper can result in bodily injury. (Rather small chance
of a paper cut.)
Caution Typing "format c:" on the command line can result in loss of data.
(High probability of major data loss.)
One of the questions I asked when we were discussing how to handle this
Do our readers know the difference between a Caution and a Warning?
I've seen the difference spelled out in the front section of manuals, but
who (except for word nerds like us) reads that drivel? For something that
critical, I can't see counting on the reader already having obscure
information that we have to look up and ask each other about, or reading
the introductory material. Particularly when I think of the person
thrashing around looking things up in a critical situation, which is pretty
likely to be what's going on when that part of the document gets looked
It all comes back to considering the reader.
Mike Huber, not speaking for anybody else
Mike -dot- huber -at- software -dot- rockwell -dot- com
Grammar and spelling are tools to be used in moderation.
From: Wayne J. Douglass [SMTP:wayned -at- VERITY -dot- COM]
Sent: Wednesday, April 16, 1997 3:19 PM
To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU
Subject: Re: ISO Standard for Warnings?
As usual, _Science and Technical Writing: A Manual of Style_, Philip
Rubens, ed., doesn't disappoint. The advice from page 452 is:
. Warning inform the reader of possible bodily injury if procedures are not
. Cautions alert the reader to possible equipment damage if procedures are
not followed correctly, and
. Notes inform the reader wirher of a general rule for a procedure or of
exceptions to such a rule.