On-line Versus Paper—
What’s the Difference?
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Characteristics of E-reader
Characteristics of Online Communication
Techniques for Effective Online Help
Techniques for Writing Effective Web Sites
1
On-line Versus Paper—What’s the
Difference?
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On-line help screens and Web sites are
different from paper text in terms of
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The on-line e-reader
Page layout
Skimming versus linear reading
Hypertext links versus chronological
reading
Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition
© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.
2
Characteristics of the E-reader
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E-readers are Topic specific
Search specific Web sites
 Look for specific
information
 Want instructions
for performing specific
tasks
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Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition
© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.
3
Characteristics of the E-reader
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Speed
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E-readers want to
find information in
ten seconds.
Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition
© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.
4
Characteristics of the E-reader
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Use electronic platforms
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E-readers can access on-line help screens
and Web sites using cell phones, PDAs, and
other wireless devices
E-readers will be using Netscape, Internet
Explorer, AOL, Macs and PCs.
Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition
© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.
5
Characteristics of the E-reader
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Languages
WWW stands for the “World Wide Web.”
 The Internet is global.
 E-readers are multilingual
and multicultural.
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Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition
© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.
6
Characteristics of On-line
Communication
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The Screen versus the Page—
forget 8 ½ X ll.
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On-line help screens are small.
Effective Web screens rarely require scrolling.
Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition
© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.
7
Characteristics of On-line
Communication
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Skimming versus Linear Reading
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We read books “linearly,” line by line.
We skim and scan on-line help screens and
Web sites.
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Bulleted lists
Headings and subheadings
Pyramid approach – first sentence is main point
Divide info into small chunks
Short Paragraphs
Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition
© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.
8
Characteristics of On-line
Communication
Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition
© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.
9
Techniques for Writing Effective
On-line Help
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Organize information for easy
navigation.
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Back buttons
On-line table of contents (TOC)
Help pull-down menu
Search mechanisms
Recognize your audience.
Achieve a positive, personalized tone.
Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition
© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.
10
Techniques for Writing Effective
On-line Help
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Design your document.
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Use color sparingly.
Pick a consistent color scheme.
Have a reason for each color or graphic.
Use a 10-point sans serif font (Arial).
Use white space.
Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition
© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.
11
Techniques for Writing Effective
On-line Help
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Be concise.
Be clear.
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Provide tutorials.
Use graphics to show end results.
Provide cross references.
Use pop-up definitions.
Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition
© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.
12
Techniques for Writing Effective
On-line Help
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Ensure access on multiple platforms
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PCs and Macs
Internet Exchange and Navigator
Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition
© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.
13
Techniques for Writing Effective
On-line Help
On-line TOC and Index
Search
mechanism
Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition
Arial font
Pop-up definitions
© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.
14
Techniques for Writing Effective
On-line Help
Topics
About this Guide
Product Description
Assemble the ????
??? Instructions????
??? Instructions????
??? Instructions????
??? Instructions????
Troubleshooting
????
Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition
About this Guide
One or two line introduction.
Heading
Put some text here…..
© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.
15
Techniques for Writing Effective
Web Sites
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Home Page
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Identification information
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Name of company
Name of product or service
Contact information (phone, fax, e-mail, etc.)
Graphic—logo or pictorial representation of
company/product/service
Lead-in Introduction—slogan or sentence
Hypertext links (navigation bar)
Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition
© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.
16
Techniques for Writing Effective
Web Sites

Sample Home Page with graphical logo, leadin, navigation bar, and link to contact
information
Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition
© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.
17
Techniques for Writing Effective
Web Sites
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Linked Pages
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Headings
Development
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Specific details about price, product, service,
credentials, etc.
Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition
© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.
18
Techniques for Writing Effective
Web Sites
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Navigation
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Home buttons—allowing e-readers to return to
the home page
Links between the screens—a navigation bar
(“nav. bar”) on all screens
Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition
© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.
19
Techniques for Writing Effective
Web Sites
Home
button
Page
heading
Nav. bar
Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition
© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.
20
Techniques for Writing Effective
Web Sites
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Document design
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Background—optimal contrast for easy
readability
Font
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Sans serif
12- to 14-point type
No italics or underlining
Avoid ALL CAPS
Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition
© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.
21
Techniques for Writing Effective
Web Sites
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Document design (cont.)
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Color—optimum contrast (black on white/white on
black)
 BAD—hard to read
Yellow font on a blue background is hard to read.

GOOD—easy to read
Black font on a white background is easy to read.
Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition
© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.
22
Techniques for Writing Effective
Web Sites

Document design (cont.)
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Graphics
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JPGs, GIFs
Avoid large graphics—cause download delays
Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition
© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.
23
Techniques for Writing Effective
Web Sites
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Document design (cont.)
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GOOD Online Highlighting
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Lines (horizontal rules) separate headings and
subheadings from the text.
Bullets and icons enliven text and break up wall-towall words.
First- and second-level headings separate key
ideas.
Boldface emphasizes important points.
White space makes text more readable.
Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition
© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.
24
Techniques for Writing Effective
Web Sites
Document design (cont.)
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BAD Online Highlighting
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Frames load slowly and are distracting.
Italics are not easy to read online.
Underlining looks like hypertext links.
Java applets take a long time to load.
Video requires downloadable add-ons.
Animation can be very sophomoric.
Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition
© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.
25
Techniques for Writing Effective
Web Sites
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Style
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Conciseness—to limit scrolling
Personalized tone
Correct grammar—your Web site is global.
Don’t exhibit errors on the Web, World
Wide.
Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition
© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.
26
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