> Wheildon's book is rather narrowly addressed to advertisers who
> typically need to get a reader's attention in the split second they flip
> the pages of a magazine.  I don't think it's valid to extrapolate his
> conclusions to book length technical documents.  (And to read some of
> the comments on the Amazon pages -- 
> http://www.amazon.com/review/R1SUFVT71QXL6V/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm
> -- for example, his conclusions may not be valid to begin with anyway.)
>
>
> Scattering a few grains of salt...  ;-)

While it's true that Wheildon's book is advertising oriented, I wouldn't use 
that basis to dismiss it. Its studies-- and these were actual studies, not 
opinions-- did NOT focus on what kind of text makes things sell better. Its 
studies focused on reader comprehension. If you ask me, reader comprehension 
is even more important to people who write manuals than people who write 
advertisements. Most of the studies were done on text heavy samples, best 
described as articles.  My feeling is that if Wheildon's studies show that 
certain formatting choices can ruin reader comprehension in a 1-page, 
text-heavy magazine ad or in a 3-page newsletter, those same choices are 
likely to do  even more damage in a 700-page manual.

I'll say this. As I read the book, I never in the least felt that this was a 
book about making better advertisements. Rather, it's a book about making 
better communications.

Mike Wickham




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