Reviewing online help

Subject: Reviewing online help
From: geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA
Date: Mon, 8 Dec 1997 12:37:51 -0600

Richard Pineger asked for <<advice on getting a large help
file reviewed?>>, and noted <<Once I print out the help
pages there are no references to where they originated and
no page numbers or links. This makes it difficult to review
hard copy.>>

I'm not sure what the problem is here. If you've chunked
your text properly, each topic should have a heading and as
many subheads as are necessary to sub-chunk the information
effectively. If that's the case, page numbers should be
irrelevant. Similarly, all links should be obvious from the
formatting you chose (usually a double-underline), and if
they're not, you can change the formatting temporarily to
make the existence of a link obvious. On the assumption
that this is how you've structured your help file, the
solution for helping reviewers follow the links is twofold:

1. Place the printed copy in a binder, and use section
dividers to break it up into the main logical units. This
will make flipping pages easier. However:
2. Since the links are more effectively tested online,
break your testing into two phases: check the material for
substantive problems and proofread it on paper, but check
the accuracy and quality of the links online.

Similarly, break up large printouts into smaller units so
reviewers can focus on only the parts that relate to their
area of expertise; if their expertise covers the whole
project, they'll still find small chunks easier to digest
than the entire file. If I'm understanding things
correctly, this should resolve most of your problems; if
not, send more details and I'll have another go at it.

--Geoff Hart @8^{)} geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Disclaimer: Speaking for myself, not FERIC., or

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