Issue 81, 22 September 2004
Editor: Jean Hollis Weber
In this issue...
My new books: "OpenOffice.org Writer" and "Is the Help
Technical editing tips
Book Reviews: O'Reilly books on MAC OS X
New edition of Website Indexing
New edition of Woe is I
Electronic editing: with your computer, not just on it
Electronic references (citations)
What I've been doing since April
Report on AODC 2004
My books: Print and electronic
Subscription information and privacy statement
"OpenOffice.org Writer: The Free Alternative to Microsoft Word" was published by O'Reilly Community Press in July 2004. It's essentially the same as my previously self-published book "Taming OpenOffice.org Writer 1.1" but has been revised and reformatted and now ships with a copy of OpenOffice.org on CD. For more information, see http://www.taming-openoffice-org.com/
"Is the Help Helpful? How to create online help that meets your users' needs" will be published soon by Hentzenwerke. This book is completely revised, expanded, and updated from my previously self-publishined book "Editing Online Help." For more information, see http://www.jeanweber.com/books/ithh.htm
Contributed by Penelope Goward, Lecturer, School of Information Technology, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia
One of the things we are well aware of in technical writing is that people are in a hurry, they don't have time to read or study, and so much is out there clamoring for their attention. People are consequently weighing up the effort and time invested against the payoff gained.
How do we ensure a product is read? According to Jan White, in her newly revised book, Editing by Design* (Allworth Press, 2003, ISBN 1581153023), editing is performed on two tracks, the fast track and the slow track. The fast track shows the value of the message by revealing its significant bits at first glance to the reader. The slow track is the depthmake it obvious to the reader that this can be skipped, if they choose. They would have gathered the general idea from the fast track.
* Subtitled "For Designers, Art Directors, and EditorsThe Classic Guide to Winning Readers"
White maintains that if a publication looks bland or too long, busy people will not read it. Every psychological, intellectual and visual trick must be used to make the story, section or publication irresistible. This is where the use of display comes in. Here are some suggestions:
- Use images that involve the viewer by means of curiosity or emotion
- Use 'infographics' to replace long wordy descriptions
- Put the picture above the headline
- Never run a picture without a caption
- When using graphics, put the explanations about the graphic nearby (not somewhere on the page)
- Have a welcoming entry point on every page
- Break the page into short clusters or chunks
- Can the page be skim read, so the headings and sub-headings tell a story?
- Turn the publication into a source of useful references and ideas to extend the publication's shelf-life
- Read the copy aloud according to the clues given by its layout, otherwise you might get something that reads like this!
NO DUMPING VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED
(First published in Tech Talk, the ASTC (Victoria) newsletter, June 2004, page 21, and reprinted with permission.)
Reviews by Eric Lindsay, who bought a Mac in March 2004 after years of using Unix, Windows, and earlier operating systems, and wanted more information than the Mac's online help provided. http://www.jeanweber.com/books/oreilly-mac.htm
Includes reviews of:
- Mac OS X Panther Edition: The Missing Manual, by David Pogue
- Mac OS X Hacks, by Rael Dornfest and Kevin Hemenway
- Running Mac OS X Panther, by James Duncan Davidson
Glenda Browne and Jonathan Jermey's "Website Indexing: enhancing access to information within websites" (2nd edition) was published by Auslib Press, 2004, ISBN 1875145567.
The following information is extracted from the promotional brochure for the book.
A comprehensive revision and substantial expansion of the internationally acclaimed 2001 first edition, this book covers:
- Back-of-the-book-style indexing for the Web
- Information access on the Web in general
It is aimed at individuals, rather than those working in large teams of specialists. It is also practical, and many of the hints come from the authors' own experience, or that of students they have taught. The tools and techniques can be applied to eBook indexing as well as to Web indexing.
Web managers, professional indexers, librarians, information architects, technical writers, and anyone else who wants to create an index for their own website will find this book useful.
For pricing, and to order copies, contact email@example.com
Patricia T. O'Conner's "Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English" (expanded) was published by Riverhead Books in June, 2004, ISBN 1594480060.
An informative and enjoyable book to read. Great to give or suggest to others, even if you don't need it yourself.
"Electronic Editing: With Your Computer, Not Just On It" is a presentation by Hilary Powers (notes By Dawn Adams), from the Bay Area Editors' Forum, March 16, 2004. http://www.editorsforum.org/forum_index_articles/work_support_03-16-04.html
Includes a tipsheet of ways to use your computer to work more efficiently. Although most of the tips are for Microsoft Word, the concepts apply to any word processing software you use.
Excerpts from the 5th edition of the APA Publication Manual (2001) are available online at http://www.apastyle.org/elecref.html
The material covers commonly asked questions regarding how to cite electronic media. These include changes in APA's style guidelines from previous editions of the Publication Manual.
Because electronic media change rapidly, the page will be updated regularly as there are additions, changes, or clarifications to APA style.
The page has links to these topics:
- Electronic Media and URLs
- General Forms for Electronic References
- Reference Examples for Electronic Source Materials
- Citations in Text of Electronic Material
- Electronic Media Spelling Guide
This newsletter is at least four months late, and you're entitled to wonder whyassuming you haven't been too busy yourself to notice.
In addition to attending AODC2004 in May, I finished the first draft of a book (Is the Help Helpful?) and then spent 10 weeks driving nearly 16,000 km around outback Australia while revising another book (OpenOffice.org Writer) and attempting to keep several websites up to date. The websites, and this newsletter, suffered badly, but I made my deadlines on the books.
If you're interested in my travels, the trip report starts here: http://www.avalook.com.au/trip2004/part1-2004trip.htm. It's not finished; I still have several installments to write, plus lots of photos to prepare.
In May I attended the Australasian Online Documentation and Content Conference (AODC 2004) in Manly, a suburb of Sydney, presenting a talk on style guides. My talk was on Friday, when we were all encouraged to wear our casual beach gear, so I could dress as I usually do and not be conspicuous.
This was the first AODC I've attended, and I must say I was very impressed! Tony Self and his team put together a great program of speakers (entertaining as well as informative), as well as providing plenty of opportunity for networking. I particularly appreciated Dave Gash's and Dr Tom James' sessions.
More about past conferences (and a chance to sign up for information about next year's conference) is here: http://www.aodc.com.au/. Want a giggle? Look at the photos from this year's conference: http://www.aodc.com.au/album2004.htm
Is the Help Helpful? How to create online help that meets your users' needs,
OpenOffice.org Writer: The Free Alternative to Microsoft Word http://www.taming-openoffice-org.com/
Taming Microsoft Word (3 editions, for Word 2002, 2000, and 97) http://www.jeanweber.com/books/tmw
Electronic Editing, http://www.jeanweber.com/books/e-edit.htm
© Copyright 2004, Jean Hollis Weber. All rights reserved.
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