Readers Express their Purpose in Terms of Tools and their Features

One of the samples of an EPPO topic that I included in my book was a topic from the WordPress Codex on the subject of Using Themes. One of the key properties of an EPPO topic is that it serves a specific and limited purpose. I identified the purpose of this topic as enabling the reader to use themes on their WordPress site.

One of the reviewers objected that the user’s real purpose was not to use themes, but to style their site. I can understand where the criticism comes from. Those of us who favor task orientation in technical communications are quite sensitive to anything that smells of its opposite: feature orientation. We don’t want people to be writing topics on the File Menu, for instance. We want them to focus on things that the reader is trying to do. read more

Characteristics of EPPO topics: specific limited purpose

This post is the second in my series on the characteristics of Every Page is Page One topics, an inquiry into the common characteristics of the millions of page-one topics that already exist. The first post in this series covered the standalone property. This post covers the closely-related property that an page-one topic has a specific limited purpose.

In the previous post, I introduced a distinction between a topic dependency and a reader dependency. A reader dependency is one the reader brings to the material — some wider purpose or some lack of background information or relevant data. A topic dependency is something the topic needs to fulfill its purpose for every reader. In order to tell a reader dependency from a topic dependency, you need to know what the purpose of the topic is. read more