TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: hyperlink style question From:Jim Purcell <jimpur -at- MICROSOFT -dot- COM> Date:Thu, 21 Aug 1997 10:38:02 -0700
> Per convention, our hyperlinks are in blue so they are easily-
> recognizable. However, we are still using hardcopy x-ref conventions
> also -- putting section titles in quotes and providing page numbers.
> Dilemma: The blue text, quotes, and page numbers seem like
> overkill. Our audience is used to online stuff -- should we just
> use the blue text and get rid of the quotation marks and page
> numbers? (since they can just select the link and go to that
> section) Or should I keep them in there for the one or two users
> who might print the darn thing out?
> For example...
> Instead of:
> 'To create a process' on page 16 <with section title in hyperlink blue
> Just have:
> To create a process <in hyperlink blue text>
> I prefer the second -- it's simpler and cleaner.
Me, too. What does "page 16" mean to the online reader? What, for that
matter, does it mean to the person who prints out a single topic?
One of the beauties of hypertext is that you don't have to do
conventional cross-references. ("For details, see 'Creating a
Process.'") What I like to do is not even mention the topic title
directly. If I have a topic called "Creating a Process" and I'm
describing something higher level, I'll just make jump text of whatever
To edit the contents of the server object, you
must first _create a process_ in which the server
application can run.
Something like that. The narrative flow is not interrupted by a
cross-reference, but the cross-reference is manifestly there.
BTW, jump text should be both colored and underscored so colorblind
readers can still spot it.
> My audience tends to use
> the docs online, rather than printing them out.
Well, there's your answer.
> Any good reasons for
> keeping the quotation marks and page numbers? Is the possibility that
> it might
> be printed out a good enough reason to keep 'em?
I don't see how this makes a difference. YMMV, but I think most people
print help pages as they need them; they don't use their computer to
print a book. If this is your experience, you can't make any assumptions
about page numbers. As to cross-references, they can always go back to
the screen, make the jump, and print out that topic, too, which I think
is what most people do when they want hard copy. (Anybody have any
research on this?)
Jim Purcell mailto:jimpur -at- microsoft -dot- com
My opinions, not Microsoft's