Reading Usable Help
@UsableHelp on Twitter
Gordon R. Meyer
A funny manual that works
Using humor to underline key points when teaching is a time-tested technique, but it's very difficult to use humor effectively in technical documentation. David Pogue's books are probably the most notable exception, but humor is certainly anathema in any corporate documentation offered today. Nonetheless, customers continue to ask for it, and sometimes they even like it.
Bill Bumgarner is a savvy user who falls into this category. He writes about the manual for Visual Hub, which includes a liberal dose of (apparently) appropriate humor. It's worth downloading if you're interested in this sort of example. Here's a sample that gives a taste of what's included:
"PAL stands for "Phase Alternating Line", and as expected from the title, tells you absolutely nothing helpful, leaving you lost and confused. It's the format used in the rest of the world, including Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and most of South America. People in Antarctica are too cold to watch TV. "