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Considerations for Your Software Documentation

These are the types of items that we take into consideration when we author software documentation.
Evaluate your documentation to see if the writer considered them.

Organization

Is the material organized logically? Will users, of all knowledge levels, be able to find what they are looking for?
Does the manual contain a table of contents, so that the user can see "at a glance" what it contains?
Is the manual or help system indexed using multiple styles? Will it appeal to users who think to look up the noun, as well as those who think to look up the verb?
Does the documentation contain a glossary for the user to reference when the terminology becomes confusing?
Does the manual contain a quick reference section to assist the user when time is important?
Does the documentation contain a troubleshooting section to help the user solve problems quickly without getting frustrated?

Writing

Is consistent terminology used across all documentation?
Do the elements in the windows of the software match what they are called in the documentation?
Does the writing use active voice and conversational words?
Was the document proofread, preferably by someone other than the author?
Are all grammar and spelling errors eliminated?
Does the documentation match the final version of the software?
Does the documentation consider the end-user's expertise, thought process, and patience level?

Design

Does the layout of the pages follow good graphic design principles?
Is the documentation as user-friendly as possible? Does it use bullets, visuals, and lists?
Does the documentation use a reasonable number of fonts?
Does the design of the documentation enhance what is written?
Is the help system designed to eliminate content redundancies?