19 votes
Accepted

Preferred word for "preferred", "target", "chosen" in end user support documentation

One possibility is to not use the adjective: "Select a printer". Another is to use the adjective appropriate to the action: Sometimes you mean "Select a disk", sometimes (like for formatting) you ...
Amadeus's user avatar
  • 101k
16 votes
Accepted

Instruction manuals: should the end-user be addressed directly (passive vs imperative)?

Use direct, simple, clear, imperative instructions. Passive voice and subjunctive make your language unclear and complicated for an international audience. Luckily in this respect there is no ...
Lefty G Balogh's user avatar
10 votes

Preferred word for "preferred", "target", "chosen" in end user support documentation

All instructions writers wrestle with these terms. Just remember that instructions should be absolutely clear, without ambiguity. "Preferred" can be ambiguous. Does a "preferred" printer stay that way?...
user8356's user avatar
  • 1,333
7 votes

Instruction manuals: should the end-user be addressed directly (passive vs imperative)?

Passive voice gets a bad reputation. We're taught to avoid it at all costs. For the most part that's correct, too. It's dull, slows the sentence, and is often vague. If you're writing end user ...
ForEachLoop's user avatar
5 votes
Accepted

Should user manuals be organized by feature or process?

In most cases, I think, it is best to organize an end-user manual by process because this is what the user cares about. When they use the software they will begin with the first step of their workflow ...
Matt's user avatar
  • 663
4 votes

Should user manuals be organized by feature or process?

I will echo Matt in suggesting that the process orientation is the best approach. However, let me propose a hybrid approach. The software might support multiple processes and those processes might ...
JonStonecash's user avatar
  • 5,247
4 votes

Formatting of Text in Technical Writing (Procedure Writing)

Typically in documentation you would want every UI reference to be styled consistently. This would lead me to think that matching font styles to individual elements is not the ideal approach. Best ...
topicref's user avatar
  • 123
4 votes

Formatting of Text in Technical Writing (Procedure Writing)

These are style questions and mostly a matter of opinion; but if the matching is intended to help the user recognize the key, then if I were writing a manual I would match the italics, and if possible ...
Amadeus's user avatar
  • 101k
2 votes

In end user documentation, should screenshots come before or after the text that references them?

Screenshots can also come to the right or left of text that references them. Using columns can improve readability and keep illustrations from being separated across pages from the text that ...
user8356's user avatar
  • 1,333
2 votes

Should user manuals be organized by feature or process?

Why not both? In the Olden Days™, software would often come with two sorts of documentation: A tutorial or user guide, explaining how to perform common tasks.  This could be anything from a quick ...
gidds's user avatar
  • 671
1 vote

How can I make the process of writing easier?

Get something to drink. And then, here's my simple advice: Just sit down and write down everything you have in your head about your topic, no filters. Then, later, go back and divide it into ...
Lambie's user avatar
  • 113
1 vote

How can I make the process of writing easier?

The question, vague as it remains after the edit by F1Krazy, potentially touches on many topics: Low self-esteem Perfectionism Lack of routine Wrong assumptions about what writing is and how it works ...
Ben's user avatar
  • 7,388
1 vote
Accepted

What are the conventions for formatting links to two API references in software user guide text?

So a common technique I have found is for online or digital documentation, to offer the information for the different languages as a selectable dropdown or tabbed panel in some way. Either as a tabbed ...
Joelle Boulet's user avatar
1 vote

Instruction manuals: should the end-user be addressed directly (passive vs imperative)?

Recently, my favorite documentation style is the one promoted by the Pragmatic Bookshelf, a major technical publisher. The PB authors must structure their books as conversations with their prospective ...
DYZ's user avatar
  • 383
1 vote

Demo data in screenshots! What are the best practice?

You can use Sherlock Holmes, since he is a public domain fictional character and he has a famous fictional address. I think this adds a little fun but not so much that it is distracting, and it feels ...
Simon White's user avatar
  • 1,368

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