Home > Articles

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Indicate a practical reason for information

Giving users the information that they need is only part of task-oriented writing. Users need a practical reason for the information. They need to understand why you are giving it to them—how it is relevant to their task. The goal that the information serves must be apparent. A task is not just an activity, but an activity that is directed to a particular end.

To ensure that the information that you provide is relevant to the task, follow these guidelines:

  • Relate details to a task where appropriate.

  • Provide only a necessary amount of conceptual information in task topics.

Relate details to a task where appropriate

In a task topic, users should never wonder, "But why are you telling me this?" For example, to state that the records in a file have a certain size might leave users wondering, "So what?" However, if you tell them that they must build a library to hold the file and that the record size affects the way that they do this, they can understand why you are telling them about record size.

In a task topic, facts can puzzle users if you don't indicate what significance the facts have, as shown in the following passage:

Original

If the NORES option is used, the routines are link-edited as part of the load module. If the RES option is used, the routines are loaded separately.

Revision

Use the NORES option when you have sufficient space for routines to be link-edited as part of your load module. Use the RES option to save space by loading the routines only when you need them.

The original passage explains what the options do, but it does not relate that information to the user's task of deciding which option to use. In the revision, the facts are restated so that the user understands when to use which option.

At first glance, the following sentence appears to be only descriptive and to have no practical application:

Original

The BW_Message mapping table in the Data_LM directory can contain warning messages that are issued by InfoProduct when you create a request.

Revision

After you create a request, check the BW_Message mapping table to see if InfoProduct issued any warning messages. The BW_Message mapping table is in the Data_LM directory.

Users might glance at the original sentence and move on because it doesn't seem relevant. The revised sentence relates the information to the task of creating a request, so that users understand why the information is significant.

Provide only a necessary amount of conceptual information in task topics

Task topics should focus on providing only the information that supports the task. Task topics can contain:

  • Rationale for doing the task

  • Requirements for doing the task (such as prerequisite tasks or software)

  • Steps of the task

  • Tips and examples to support the steps

  • Information about follow-on (postrequisite) tasks

Do not mix significant amounts of conceptual information with task information. Users want to learn to do things without needing to learn all the concepts that are associated with a product. In task topics, provide steps as early as possible, and explain minor concepts briefly, if at all.

Separate the explanations of major concepts from the task topic by creating a topic for each major concept. Provide links to those concept topics from your task topic. That way, users who already understand the concepts can do the task, and users who need to learn about the concepts can go to the concept topics.

This guideline deals with overcompleteness and is similar to the completeness guideline "Include only necessary information" on page 84.

The following topic explains the concepts of a project and a suite before presenting the task:

Original

Creating test cases

Projects are collections of files that are related to a test case. When you create a test case, you must also create a project. You can, however, create a project before you create a test case. Each project can contain multiple test case files but only one main test case. You create projects in suites. Each suite can contain multiple projects. If you create one suite for each function that you test, the projects in a suite can contain the test cases that you create to test the function.

To create a suite:

  1. Right-click a suite object and select New from the menu.

  2. Specify details in the New Suite window.

To create a project:

  1. Right-click a suite object and select New Project from the menu.

  2. Specify details in the New Project window.

To create a test case:

  1. Right-click a project and select New Test Case from the menu.

  2. Specify details in the New Test Case window.

  3. Click Record and work with the product that you want to test.

  4. Click Save after you finish recording your actions.

The original topic starts with conceptual information and then tells the user how to create the needed elements. Users need to read through a big paragraph of information before they can start the task.

Revision

Creating test cases

You can create one or more test cases for each function that you want to test.

Before you begin:

  1. Create a suite for the function that you are testing.

  2. Create a project within the suite to hold the test cases and files.

To create a test case:

  1. Right-click a project and select New Test Case from the menu.

  2. Specify details in the New Test Case window.

  3. Click Record and work with the product that you want to test.

  4. Click Save after you finish recording your actions.

Related topics

Creating suites

Creating projects

Suites

Projects

Test cases

The revised topic does not explain all of the relationships of the elements. These elements are explained in detail in concept topics. Links are provided from the bottom of the task topic to these concept topics. In addition, the revised topic uses a prerequisite section that is labeled "Before you begin" to show that two of the elements must be created before you begin this task.

This separation of task topics and concept topics allows the writer to share the same concept topics across multiple tasks. For example, the task topic for creating a project can also provide a link to the "Projects" concept topic.

The revised task does not provide the substeps of the prerequisite tasks. Those steps are provided in separate tasks that are linked to from this task. Each of the three tasks is handled in a separate topic as explained in the guideline "Divide tasks into discrete subtasks" on page 33 of this chapter.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020