Usage

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Some Autodesk variations and clarifications of the Microsoft style guidelines.

Describe Objects Concisely

Find a concise way to describe clicking points and selecting objects in the drawing window without relying on the phrase, "as shown in the animation" or "as shown in the following figure." Telling users to do as shown in the animation is a weak description and damages the usefulness of the procedure.

This may require some rethinking of points used and objects selected in a procedure. It will improve usability of the procedure and user success rates.


  Do Not Use

Click the endpoint of the line, as shown in the animation.


  Do Use

On the title block, click the lower left endpoint.

Do Not Send Users Down False Paths

One of the worst things you can do is give users some command then have them back out of it leaving them nothing to show for their effort.

Users are busy professionals trying to accomplish real work with your content. They do NOT appreciate having their time wasted by performing procedures that show what not to do.


  Do Not Use

As you can see, bending a box that only has one segment doesnít work. Now letís see what we should have done in the first place.


  Do Use

Increase the number of height segments so that the box will bend smoothly.

Avoid unnecessary detail.

Replace detail such as explicit coordinates or exact sizes with general descriptions if such detail is not critical to the success of a procedure.

Never force a user to type explicit coordinates for a selection window.


  Do Not Use

Type 105.45,90.25 and press ENTER then type 125.6,150.2 and press ENTER to define the corners of the crossing window.


  Do Use

In the drawing window click two points to define a crossing window that touches only the green cylinder.

Always describe the exact user action.

Use explicit mouse driven descriptions as opposed to vague generic descriptions that support multiple forms of action.


  Do Not Use

In the Options dialog box, click on the Display tab then click on Colors.

In the Window Element list, select Model Tab Background then click on Apply & Close.

In the File Name box, type myfile.dwg then click Save.


  Do Use

In the Options dialog box, click the Display tab then click Colors.

In the Window Element list, select Model Tab Background then click Apply & Close.

In the File Name box, type myfile.dwg then click Save.

Use parallel construction for titles, procedure headings, and bullet lists.

Do not use mix and match construction.

Use parallel sentence structure for instructions. Parallel structure among similar instructions reinforces clarity and consistency.

Varying sentence structure forces the reader to search for critical information.


  Do Not Use

Click Use a Wizard in the Startup dialog box.


  Do Use

In the Startup dialog box, click Use a Wizard.

Avoid using "You can <action>..."

It indicates that you are giving permission. Use "You can..." only when you present multiple options.

Avoid using "The program lets you."

User confidence is undermined when it is implied that the program lets, allows, enables, or provides an action. Remember that the user is in control.


  Do Not Use

You can <action>...

AutoCAD allows you to <action>...


  Do Use

You <action>...

<Action>...

Avoid extra prepositions that weaken your prose.


  Do Not Use

Click on the Box button.


  Do Use

Click the Box button.

Type in text.

Tell the reader to type text in text boxes, on the command line, and in text editors. If pressing ENTER is required to successfully complete the command then explicitly state that.


  Do Not Use

In the File Name box, type myfile.dwg then click Save.


  Do Use

On the command line type -layer and press ENTER.

Be specific about how to enter points. Explicitly tell the reader whether to type coordinates or click in the drawing window to define a point.


  Do Use

On the command line, type 0,0 and press ENTER to specify the start point.

Click anywhere in the drawing window to insert the block.

Click the edge of the circle to snap to the center point.

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