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Using a structured design analysis to simplify complex in-house computer manuals

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A three-stage design analysis that can be added to a prewriting strategy to produce a more efficient and portable computer user manual is presented. The three stages are: preliminary analysis, defining who the audience is, what they presently know about the subject, what they need to know, and how they will react to the information presented; needs assessment, a systematic effort that gathers opinions and ideas from a variety of sources regarding performance problems or new systems and technologies; and design for learning, which moves from gathering information to analyzing audience needs, defining learning objectives and designing the manual itself. It is shown that the three-stage process justifies a writer's work by citing specific cost factors and casts the writer in the role of a communication analyst who is capable of finding motivational, environmental, and cost issues in the organization

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Professional Communication, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:35 ,  Issue: 1 )