Not-wanted: Technical Writers

Subject: Not-wanted: Technical Writers
From: "Heidt, Kim (AZ15)" <Kim -dot- Heidt -at- IAC -dot- HONEYWELL -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 18 Dec 1997 13:05:21 -0600

Hi everyone. I'm on digest, so I might be a little behind on this one
(the Washington Post article controversy), but I wanted to add my two

I spent a good part of this summer re-writing a guide for our one of our
Windows-NT compliant software packages. While the software contains
roughly 30 different screens, all with different menus, buttons, fields,
etc., the old guide was about only 48 pages with 12 of those pages
consisting of an appendix showing nothing but lines and lines of code.
The new guide is 312 pages, complete with a 20-page glossary, 10-page
index, over 60 megs of screen captures, and step-action tables like you
wouldn't believe.

So this is exactly the opposite of the Weber theory, but guess what? The
users love it! Whereas before our developers received a number of calls
from our customers because the information wasn't in the guide, now our
customers not only call much less frequently, but in the few times they
have to call, they refer to the new guide (e.g., "On page 76 of the
guide, you mention this, but that isn't happening on our system and why
not?") It means they're READING it!

And, we got internal and external requests galore, asking if they could
get an advance copy of the guide before it was even officially
re-published for our latest release, because they found that they could
find more information in the new guide than there was in the old guide.
It just goes to show that if you include the right amount of
information, and structure the document so the users can get the info
they need, it doesn't matter (too much) what size the documentation is.

Kimberly K. (Heidt) Rosenlof
Technical Documentation Specialist
Honeywell Industrial Automation and Control
(602) 313-4260
kim -dot- heidt -at- iac -dot- honeywell -dot- com, or

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