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Glossary

2-level manual – a revisable manual that has been divided into a series of chapters, and each chapter divided into a series of modules.

3-level manual – a revisable manual that has been divided into a series of chapters, each chapter divided into a series of sections, and each section divided into a series of modules.

Acronym – a word, such as SCUBA, which has been created by taking the first letter of each word in a compound name or description.

Active verb – form of verb used when the subject of a sentence is placed before the verb.

Advance organizer - any information, such as an introduction, that tells readers what they’re about to read.

Appendix – location at the back of a manual for reference material that is important to the reader, but would interrupt the flow of the text, usually because of its size. May also contain forms that relate to more than one module.

Attachment – something that is attached to a module, such as a form.

Banks – the number of rows of divider tabs. For example, a set of tabs might consist of three banks of five tabs.

Binding offset – the extra clearance (usually ¼ inch) provided along the binding edge of pages. Increases the right margin on left pages, and the left margin on right pages.

Bottom up – a method of organization in which details are presented first, and general conclusions presented last. Typical of scientific reports.

Buzzword – a technical term, consisting of a word or phrase, that has special meaning to a small group of people.

Callouts – labels with arrows naming the parts of a technical illustration.

Camera-ready copy – the reproducible copy of a manual provided to the printer from which all copies will be made. Required for photocopying or offset printing, but not for direct-from-disk printing.

Case – either upper case or lower case. Upper case consists of capital letters. Lower case consists of small letters.

Cataloguing in Publication (CIP) – international program of co-operation between librarians and publishers to catalogue publications before they are printed. CIP information is always placed on the back of the title page. Not required for internal manuals unless they will be released to the public.

Caution note – special note used in manuals cautioning readers about something that may harm their equipment or data.

Cerlox binding – a proprietary name for a binding system which uses a plastic comb inserted into holes punched along the edge of all pages to hold the document together.

Change bar – a vertical line placed in the left or right margin used to indicate where changes have been made to the text.

Chapter table of contents – detailed table of contents placed at the front of chapters used in addition to the main table of contents. Usually references two or three levels of headings.

Character-string search – a search through an electronic file for a defined series of characters and/or spaces.

Click-art – stock artwork available in electronic form that can be integrated with word processor files and used in documents.

Clip-art– stock artwork that can be clipped out and used in documents.

Collating – sorting printed text pages and divider tabs into the order in which they will appear in the manual.

Comps – detailed sketches prepared by a graphic artist to show what the finished artwork would look like.

Content edit – evaluating a manual for problems of organization, structure, misplaced emphasis, and accuracy.

Context-sensitive help – a computer help system which provides information related to the function currently being performed on the computer without requiring the user to use a table of contents, index, or keyword search.

Critical path – the sequence of activities that limit how quickly a project can be completed.

Cross-architecture – a term used to describe a situation in which multiple computer hardware and software systems are used within an organization making communications between them difficult or impossible.

Cross-reference – reference to another place in the manual, or another document, that the reader may be interested in.

Cross-reference table – a table listing, for each module, other modules which have been referred to, and other modules in which the module has been referred.

Decision tree – form of flow diagram in which readers are routed according to their response to questions, usually consisting of graphic rectangles and diamonds connected with lines and arrows.

Departmental organization – a method of organization in which each chapter of the manual corresponds to a specific department or group.

Direct-from-disk printing – reproduction method in which every copy of a manual is produced directly from electronic data. Usually printed at 600 dots per inch. Sometimes called demand printing.

Divider tabs – cardboard sheets with laminated tabs, usually printed with chapter number and name, used to help readers locate the beginning of chapters.

Document development methodology – the standard step-by-set process for developing manuals used by professional technical

writers across North America.

Document hierarchy – the ranking of documents within an organization. Documents at the top of the hierarchy set parameters the lower-level documents must comply with.

Document plan – a detailed plan for preparing a document usually consisting of a needs analysis, document specification and work plan.

Documentation specialist – a person who specializes in writing, producing and maintaining manuals. Often called a technical writer.

Double-siding – printing manual pages on both sides of the paper.

dpi – dots per inch. Measure of the number of dots or pixels per linear inch making up printed text or graphics.

Fast-track summary – method of presenting key information to expert readers. Usually placed in a text box in the white space column and often associated with an icon.

Field guide – document designed to be used away from a desk, often outdoors.

Figure numbering – a system for numbering illustrations, tables or diagrams within a manual.

Flow diagram – graphic means of presenting an overview of how processes work, usually consisting of graphic boxes and other shapes, and lines and arrows.

Footer – information and graphics at the bottom of the page that are not part of the text. Normally there are two different footers, one for left pages and one for right pages. Footers are usually the same throughout a module, except for page numbering.

Format edit – check to see that the page layout and use of typographic conventions meet the style guidelines.

Full justification – lines of text ending precisely at the right margin as well as the left.

Functional organization – a method of organization in which chapters and sections of a manual correspond to business functions, not specific departments or work groups.

Gerund – verb ending in -ing, such as "printing."

Glossary – an alphabetical list of terms the reader may not be familiar with. May include acronyms. Usually placed at the front of a modular manual behind the introduction.

Graphic rule – a line.

Guidebook – document which contains guidelines for dealing with different situations. Often integrated with policies.

Half-title page – first page of a manual, usually showing the title, and organization name and logo. Also called the title page.

Hanging indent– indents in which each subsequent line uses the same indent as the first line.

Hard code – an electronic code inserted into an word processor file that controls the appearance or positioning of text, such as the code for type size.

Header – information and graphics at the top of the page that are not part of the text. Normally there are two different headers, one for left pages and one for right pages. Headers are usually the same throughout a module, except for page numbering.

Heading attributes – the identifiable characteristics of heading levels, such as typeface, type size, positioning and use of related graphical devices, such as rules.

Heading hierarchy – the ranking of headings within the text used to indicate the logical hierarchy of the text. Each level of heading is usually given a set of attributes that distinguishes it visually from other headings.

Heading numbering system – a system of numbering headings within a manual, usually with a heading hierarchy.

Hot linking – providing the ability within an online manual to jump from place to place by clicking on table of contents and index entries, cross-references, or icons.

Hypertext – a form of online manual in which the reader can jump from place to place by clicking on table of contents and index entries, cross-references, or icons.

Icons – small graphics, usually placed in the white space column beside the text, which are used to flag certain types of information, such as warning or caution notes.

If...Then...table – special type of table used to present information consisting of conditions and actions.

Index – an alphabetical list of topics, keywords and synonyms used in the manual with page references.

Infobase – electronic database or library of related online manuals and documents which have been linked together with hypertext jumps.

Integrity edit – check to see that figures, illustrations and other parts of a manual are correctly referenced in the table of contents and index.

Justification – alignment of lines of text at the left and right margins.

Kerning – the spacing between letters of words.

Keyed organization a method of organization in which the sequence of text is determined by the sequence of something else, such as a form.

Language edit – check for grammatical faults, misspellings, awkward usage, ambiguity, redundancy, and other writing problems.

Leading – separation between lines of type, usually called line spacing. Normal leading, and usually the most legible, is 1.0 on word processors.

Left justification – lines of text starting precisely at the left margin, but not ending precisely at the right margin.

Line art – illustrations or graphics consisting of graphic lines without shading or toning.

Line spacing – separation between lines of type, sometimes called leading. Normal spacing, and usually the most legible, is 1.0 on word processors.

Linotronic typesetter – a low-end typesetting machine, which can print out pages at approximately 1,200 dpi. Usually reserved for documents where print quality is important.

List of figures – list of illustrations, tables and diagrams used in a manual. Optional depending on number of figures used.

Manual administrator – a typical term for a person who is responsible for periodically reviewing a manual and initiating changes when needed. Often the person responsible for the functions documented in the manual.

Manual specification a description of a planned manual usually consisting of a detailed outline, writing style guidelines and sample section.

Master document – a feature of word processors in which a file is created consisting of a series of other files. Used to generate the table of contents and index for a manual in which each chapter or module is in a separate electronic file.

Menu hierarchy – the levels of menus in a menu-driven software program.

Milestone – an interim stage in the development of a manual, such as completion of the first draft.

Modular manual – a manual composed of a series of independent sections or modules, each page numbered sequentially.

Module – an independent section of a manual, usually with its own title, module number, issue date, and page numbering.

Module numbering system – a system of numbering modules within a manual.

Naming conventions – the rules created to govern the naming of things, such as word processor file names.

Narrative text – text consisting of sentences and paragraphs, instead of tables and diagrams and other methods of presentation.

Needs analysis – a part of a document plan concerned with analyzing the need for the document, usually consisting of determining the purpose, objectives and audience.

Office manuals coordinator – a typical term for the person who is responsible for all copies of a manual at a single location.

Offset printer a machine, often called a duplicator, for printing pages employing a plate made using a photographic process. Can print large numbers of pages quickly, but the pages must be collated to form a manual.

One thirds, two thirds page design – page layout in which a column of white space is placed on the left one-third (approximate) of the page and is used for headings, illustrations, or sidebar text.

Online manual – a manual which can be accessed and browsed using a computer. Often called hypertext.

Orphan – the first line of a paragraph at the bottom of a page.

Page – a single side of a sheet of paper.

Page break – the place in the text where one page ends and the next one begins.

Page control information – information, usually placed in the headers and footers, which tells readers where they are in the manual and provides other important information about the module.

Page margins – the white space left on the left, right, top, and bottom of a page.

Page shells – pre-printed sheets of paper onto which the manual pages will be printed. Usually consisting of the organization name and logo, manual title, and graphic linework printed in colour.

Page spread – a left and right page viewed together.

Paragraph numbering – a system of numbering individual paragraphs within a manual, usually alphanumeric.

Paragraph outline – an outline of planned paragraphs, usually with one or two words to indicate the subject of each. Used to guide the writer.

Paragraph tag – heading used to label paragraphs, usually by bolding the first few words. Can be used at any level in the heading hierarchy.

Passive verb – form of verb used when the subject of a sentence is placed after the verb or is assumed.

Paste-up – the integration of graphics with text, either electronic or manual.

Plate – photosensitive plastic or metal material that is used in offset printing to transfer the image of a page to the offset duplicator.

Playscript procedure – a form of step-by-step procedure that identifies the person performing the action in the white space column beside the steps.

Point size – vertical height of an upper case letter as measured using the point scale. On the point scale, one inch is approximately equal to 72 points.

Policy – rule by which an organization manages its operations.

Policy edit – ensuring that a document meets an organization’s publication policies, such as inclusion of disclaimer notice.

Pop-up – feature of online manual systems in which information, such as a definition, appears when a graphic or word is clicked on.

Printing specifications – the detailed set of instructions telling the printer exactly how the manual is to be reproduced, including number of copies, paper, colour, etc.

Problem organization – a method of organization in which information is provided for identified problems.

Procedure – a defined process, often step-by-step, for doing something, such as processing an invoice.

Production – preparation of the physical manual, including word processing, graphics, reproduction and binding.

Proofreading – verifying that text has been entered correctly, as well as looking for spelling and punctuation errors.

Proper nouns formal names or titles given to people and things, such as positions, organizations, committees, companies, forms, and documents.

Reading level – the grade school reading level required to read a document easily. Often determined using the Fog index.

Reference manual – a document, often organized alphabetically, designed as a quick reference for experienced users.

Registration – the positioning of page elements printed at different times, such as the printing of manual pages onto page shells.

Revisable manual – a manual that has been designed to be updated easily, usually by dividing into a series of modules.

Right justification – lines of text ending precisely at the right margin, but not starting precisely at the left margin.

Rule-of-thumb measure – the basis for making a quick estimate, such as the average number of hours to write a page of text.

Sans serif typeface – typeface, such as Helvetica, characterized by absence of serifs. Believed to be less legible than serif typefaces, but often used for headings.

Scanning – converting text or graphics into a digital file, usually with a scanner. May be graphic scanning, which converts the image into a bitmap, or optical character reading (OCR), which converts printed text into a word processor file.

Screen – a dot pattern used in the reproduction of photographs or shading.

Sectional manual – a manual in which each chapter or main section is a module.

Serif typeface – typeface, such as Times Roman, characterized by small extensions at the ends of letters. Believed to be more legible than sans serif typefaces.

Shadow lines – visible lines created when photocopying pages which have paste-ups.

Sheet – a piece of paper with two sides (not to be confused with a page, which is a single side of a sheet of paper).

Show-through – the ability to see print from the opposite side of a sheet of paper. Indicates lack of opaqueness.

Sidebar text – any text other than headings placed in the white space column beside the text.

Site licence – the right granted by the owner for a fee to use a software program on a computer system.

Skimming and scanning – reading technique used by many readers to locate information quickly. Characterized by reading headings only, or reading a few words in each section or paragraph.

Small caps – typographic convention employing all upper case letters at a smaller point size than the text. For example, in 12pt text, small caps might be 10pt (SMALL CAPS).

Spot colour – colour used in different places on each page.

Standards manual – a document that sets out how frequently, how fast, or how accurately things will be done. Often integrated with policies and procedures.

Structured text – a term used to describe text that employs a variety of methods of presentation, such as tables and diagrams, instead of sentences and paragraphs.

Style guide – a document that sets out rules for preparing manuals, usually covering writing, formatting and production.

Subject expert review – review of draft by subject matter expert for technical accuracy and completeness.

Syntax – the pattern or order of words in a sentence or phrase.

System organization – a method of organization in which information is grouped according to complete business systems, such as the system for acquiring furniture and equipment.

Table of contents – table listing two or three levels of headings in the order in which they occur in the manual. Always placed at the front of manuals, often ahead of the introduction.

Task organization – a method of organization in which information is grouped according to the work tasks that readers must complete.

Technical review – review for technical accuracy, completeness and expression.

Text box – a box, usually drawn with graphic lines, used to enclose text.

Text margins – the boundaries of the text column on the page. Not to be confused with the page margins.

Top down – a method of organization in which a general statement is presented first, and details presented last. Typical of essays.

Topical organization – a method of organization in which information is grouped according to logical topics that the author establishes.

Training manual – a document designed to teach the reader how to do something, such as use software, without having to refer back to a manual or rely on someone else. Seldom try to teach everything, but just provide a foundation upon which readers can build.

Trap sheets – printed cards inserted into clear plastic pockets on the front cover and spine of binders. Sometimes called billboard binders.

Typographic convention – traditional typesetting rule that governs page design or use of type, such as the use of italics.

User manual – a document for novice users that explains how to use or operate something, such as a software program. Usually organized topically or by task.

Warning note – special note used in manuals warning readers about something that may harm them or their equipment.

White space – areas of the page with nothing on them. Appropriate use of white space can enhance the appearance of the page layout and make information easier to find.

Widow – the last line of a paragraph at the top of a page of text.

Widow/orphan protect – a common feature of word processors that prevents the occurrence of widows or orphans.

Word processor template – an electronic file containing various codes which establish the design and layout of the manual, often including format codes, styles, headers and footers, and stock text.

Work plan – a plan for preparing a manual, usually defining project tasks, participants, time estimates and schedule.

Writers’ block – an inability to write effectively, often due to poor planning.

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