Reading Usable Help
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Gordon R. Meyer
Writers who won't RTFM
Like the barefoot children of the village shoemaker, technical writers are often very resistant to read their own style guides or the documentation for the applications they use. Ask any Editor and you'll get an earful about writers who never remember the corporate style, or ask a tools person who supports writers how many times they get asked the same questions about basic software functionality.
Gary Hart proposes a solution to the style guide problem -- make it a living, dynamic document. Build templates that provide both content and formatting guidance, then take advantage of macros to automate common tasks so writers can get back to work quickly without having to do a lot of reading. All solid principals that we expound for others, but applying them in-house for our own benefit somehow slips through the cracks. (Thanks, Gary Conroy.)