Narrative and Fact in Tech Comm

Based on the responses to my post Topic Size: Finding The Narrative Minim, I think I need to say a little more about what I see as the role of narrative in technical communications.

To set the stage with broad brush strokes: The purpose of technical communication is to enable action. Technical communication gives a person the information they need to act confidently and with success. Just how much information each person needs in order to act depends on how what they lack. Some need a word; some need volumes. read more

Topic size: Finding the narrative minim

The first question we need to address in seeking a theory of topic-based information design is the perennial “how big is a topic”. Whether we are talking about the reusable blocks that DITA calls topics, or about Every Page is Page One topics that are sized for a reader, the question of size is always the first one that people ask.

In the discussion of Keith Schengili-Roberts’ blog post, What Size Should a DITA Topic Be? (the discussion is on a closed LinkedIn community, DITA Metrics, not the blog itself), Katriel Reichman suggested “one idea, one topic”. Another approach that I have used in the past is to say that a topic supports one task. read more