Effective Documentation

From Digital Communication

Effective Documentation

What We Have Learned from Research

Edited by Stephen Doheny-Farina





Effective Documentation is a major sourcebook that offers technical writers, editors, teachers, and students of technical communication a wide variety of practical guidelines based on often hard to find research in the usability of printed and electronic media. The book's eighteen chapters provide a wealth of material on such topics of current interest as the writing of design manuals, research in cognitive psychology as applied to the design of user manuals, and the organizing of manuals for hierarchical software systems. Included are chapters by such well known scholars in the field as Philip Rubens, Robert Krull, Judith Ramey, and John Carroll.

Effective Documentation reviews the advice offered by other "how to produce usable documentation" books, describing the different types of usability research and explaining the inherent biases of each type. It goes beyond the actual design of textual and/or electronic media to look at these designs in context, giving advice on effective management ("good management is a requisite of good writing"), on the relationship between document design and product design, and on how to find out who one's readers really are. Advances in the presentation of textual information are explained, with suggestions on how to improve the usability of individual sentences and the design of entire books. The concluding chapters discuss advances in the design and use of online information and offer valuable insights into the use of graphic information and the development and design of information communicated via electronic media.

Effective Documentation is included in the Information Systems series, edited by Michael Lesk.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262040983 366 pp. | 6.875 in x 9 in


$40.00 X ISBN: 9780262518994 366 pp. | 6.875 in x 9 in


Stephen Doheny-Farina

Stephen Doheny-Farina is Assistant Professor in the Technical Communications Department at Clarkson University. His previous book, Effective Documentation received the 1989 Award for the Best Collection of Essays, the National Council of Teachers of English Awards for Scientific and Technical Communication.


  • "Best Collection of Essays", NCTE Awards for Excellence in Technical and Scientific Communication.