Daniel Emory wrote:  

> Certainly I don't advocate the use of MIL specs for preparing 
> commercial manuals. I do know, however, that most tech 
> writers who produce manuals for commercial products remain 
> blissfully unaware of the problems caused by their outputs. 

A valid point. Although some of us, at least, aren't _blissful_ about
it. Resigned, maybe. Sometimes whining and grumbling. 

> All I was trying to say is that tech writers in the 
> non-military world should take advantage of remedial measures 
> taken by the military to minimize foul-ups. 

True, when they're applicable. But don't forget the two most important
concepts in the technical communications field: 

(1) It depends. 
(2) Know your audience. 

When your audience includes HS grads and GEDs, and they may be under
stress, in a hurry, or otherwise highly distracted, and the consequences
of a communication failure may be grave -- well, that's a bit different,
I suspect, from telling UNIX system administrators how to upgrade the
boot server software for their teleconferencing bridges. 

Software engineers, in particular, are often very literal-minded and
Spockian. I've actually had an engineer point to an "Intentionally
Blank" page (in another company's manual) and say, "A page is only blank
if there's nothing on it." :-)


Richard G. Combs
Senior Technical Writer
Polycom, Inc.
richardDOTcombs AT polycomDOTcom
rgcombs AT gmailDOTcom

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