A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

I Came, I Saw, I Learned

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Acrobat 9: Grayscale PDF: A Smaller PDF

If you've designed a flyer or newsletter and are distributing the document in PDF format, the color is likely a critical aspect of the document. If, however, your PDF file is part of a workflow in a law office, the color may be incidental, and may actually add nothing to the document's purpose other than bloating the document's file size.

Mankin, David R. I Came, I Saw, I Learned (2010). Articles>Document Design>Graphic Design>Adobe Acrobat


Acrobat 9: Making Search Easy

The Search command is NOT part of the default tools layout, therefore severely reducing the chance that a casual PDF 'consumer' will use the more powerful Search command. Here's a cool trick that will greatly increase the likelihood that one of your customers will call on the Search command: you'll put it right in their hands.

Mankin, David R. I Came, I Saw, I Learned (2009). Articles>Document Design>Search>Adobe Acrobat


Adobe FrameMaker: Page Navigation

Sure you know how to get from one page to another in a FrameMaker document, but are you a Page Navigation Expert? If not, you certainly should be. As I've said many times, shaving seconds off your work here and there can quickly add up to minutes or even hours of production time in a FrameMaker project.

Binder, Barbara. I Came, I Saw, I Learned (2009). Articles>Document Design>Software>Adobe FrameMaker


Adobe FrameMaker: Setting Tabs, Part 1

Why are people afraid of setting tabs? Since 1988, I've taught Word, PageMaker, Ventura Publisher, InDesign and FrameMaker classes, and most of my students walk in the door afraid of tabs. It's one of life's mysteries, and so I always try to set aside some time to address it in class. Here's your motivation to keep reading: once you master tabs in one program, you use the same logic in all the others.

Binder, Barbara. I Came, I Saw, I Learned (2010). Articles>Document Design>Software>Adobe FrameMaker


Adobe FrameMaker: Setting Tabs, Part II

Last week we talked about setting tab stops. To review the key points: 1.) press the tab key once between columns, 2.) add one tab stop per tab on each line of the table, and 3.) click under the ruler to add the tab stop. In this column, I'd like to address how to modify the alignment and position of tabs.

Binder, Barbara. I Came, I Saw, I Learned (2010). Articles>Document Design>Software>Adobe FrameMaker


Adobe FrameMaker: Troubleshooting Unavailable Fonts

I never like opening up a FrameMaker document and getting the dreaded unavailable fonts dialog box. Sadly, with multiple authors who contribute documents to me from around the world, it's just a fact of life that I see the dialog box frequently.

Binder, Barbara. I Came, I Saw, I Learned (2009). Articles>Typography>Software>Adobe FrameMaker


Adobe RoboHelp: Synonyms Made Easy

Here is an example of how Search could fail. Your company Help System, a Policies guide, includes a topic concerned with contraband substances in the office. The word contraband is contained within the topic so the word will be found if users search for that specific term. However, a user who is curious about contraband substances might elect to search the Help System using another word, such as illicit. Because the word illicit isn't in the Help System, the Search will fail. There are a couple of ways to fix the problem. One way would be to add Search terms to the properties of individual topics. Another way, which I'll cover here, is to use RoboHelp's Advanced Settings for Localization to create a synonym (illicit) for contraband.

Siegel, Kevin A. I Came, I Saw, I Learned (2012). Articles>Documentation>Software>Adobe RoboHelp


Changing Terminology: "User" versus "Customer"

The term "user" has also been critiqued because it obscures the fact that people use software and web sites in different ways. Sometimes the "user" is a customer, sometimes a contributor, sometimes an employee, sometimes a learner. In many cases, one of these words would be more accurate than the catch-all "user."

Ruby, Jennie. I Came, I Saw, I Learned (2009). Articles>Web Design>Social Networking>User Centered Design


eLearning: Do You Need Both Screen Captions and Voiceover Narration?

Because learners are trying to pay attention to the visuals, the need to move their eyes to focus on the accompanying caption is a distraction. Having a voiceover explain the visual enables the learner to absorb the audio and visual information at the same time. So my decision to turn off the audio was a mistake. I would have had a better learning experience if I had listened to the audio while focusing on the videos and ignoring the printed captions at the bottom of the screen. So does that mean eLearning should never include screen captions? Of course not. Sometimes screen captions are required simply because there is no voiceover or the learner may not have access to the voiceover.

Ruby, Jennie. I Came, I Saw, I Learned (2010). Articles>Education>Accessibility>Multimedia


Everything You Need to Know About Graphics, Part I

Dynamic images are images that can move (such as video). Static images, such as charts or screen captures, do not move. Researchers wanted to know if people learned procedural tasks best by watching a video or working through step-by-step instructions that include images. Results of the research varied. Pick a team--static or dynamic--and you'll be able to find scientific evidence to back up your choice. So which should you use in your eLearning?

George, A.J. I Came, I Saw, I Learned (2010). Design>Graphic Design>Advice>Cognitive Psychology


Everything You Need to Know About Graphics, Part II

In last week's article, I pitted dynamic images and static images against each other and made the generalization that images work best when there is a blend of both static and dynamic. In one study the point was made that moving animations involving more schematic images were most successful when it comes to learning--and even more successful when static images were added to the mix. Since budget and time constraints may not allow for a large usage of video and audio in your lesson, this week I'm going to focus on static images and how best to utilize them to promote learning.

George, A.J. I Came, I Saw, I Learned (2010). Design>Graphic Design>Education>Online


Green Screen on a Shoestring: Part I, The Process

This is a four-part series featuring green screen or transparent-background video production for Adobe Captivate. We will focus on achieving high quality and instructionally sound results while keeping a small budget and a minimum time investment.

I Came, I Saw, I Learned (2010). Articles>Multimedia>Video>Screen Captures


Green Screen on a Shoestring: Part IV, Captivate Implementation

In this fourth and final section we outline the process and best practices for using a produced green screen video in an Adobe Captivate 4 project.

Gillmore, John and Bucky Dodd. I Came, I Saw, I Learned (2010). Articles>Multimedia>Video>Screen Captures


In Fonts We Trust

There is no denying that the most important thing about eLearning is solid content. But could you be inadvertently making your content harder to read and understand by using the wrong fonts? Is good font selection really important? Read on to discover the many surprising ways fonts can affect your content.

George, A.J. I Came, I Saw, I Learned (2010). Articles>Typography>Fonts>Education


The Learning Industry: Year In Review and Trends for 2010

Let's wrap up some of 2009's most exciting additions to the industry and set our sights on what 2010 has in store for us.

George, A.J. I Came, I Saw, I Learned (2009). Articles>Education>Planning


Microsoft Word: To Track or Not to Track Changes

Track Changes in Microsoft Word is an indispensible tool for editing, but it is not the best tool for the job in every editorial situation. You may find that both tiny details and big-picture edits cause you-and your reviewers-to want less tracking, not more.

Ruby, Jennie. I Came, I Saw, I Learned (2010). Articles>Editing>Collaboration>Microsoft Word


Order in the Sentence: Introductions

The basic sentence in English is noun-verb-object: The player hit the ball. But we seldom leave it at that. We add things on the front. We add things on the back. We interrupt the sentence to say something else, and then come back to the sentence. We vary the basic sentence structure. And, in the most extreme cases, we substitute other things for the noun, the verb, and the object. All of this gives us great flexibility in creating sentences, but this very flexibility leads us to the problem of which variation to choose, and why.

Ruby, Jennie. I Came, I Saw, I Learned (2009). Articles>Writing>Grammar


PowerPoint 2007: Trigger Happy

While eLearning developers typically don't think of using PowerPoint when it comes to creating eLearning, PowerPoint presentations can, in fact, contain some slick interactivity. For instance, with the use of triggers you can control which elements appear on a slide, and where. For example, if you wanted to give a presentation in which you quizzed your audience on file name extensions for different programs, triggers might prove quite useful.

George, A.J. I Came, I Saw, I Learned (2010). Articles>Education>Software>Microsoft PowerPoint


PowerPoint 2010: Use Video Bookmarks to Trigger Animations

Let's say I'm going to teach a class on how to use Motion Paths. In the class, I'm going to give a presentation that shows this video. In the video there are two uses of motion paths, and I want a little blurb to pop up when the second one starts, alerting my learners that this is a separate motion path. Did you know that this can be accomplished in PowerPoint by using video bookmarks to trigger animations?

George, A.J. I Came, I Saw, I Learned (2012). Articles>Presentations>Software>Microsoft PowerPoint


Smart Running Heads

One of the FrameMaker features I rely on heavily for my technical documents is the use of "live" headers and footers. Once I get them set up, they will automatically pull text off of my page into the running heads so that the reader can quickly see what chapter they are in, or what section, or both. I accomplish this through the use of System Variables.

Binder, Barbara. I Came, I Saw, I Learned (2009). Articles>Document Design>Style Sheets>Adobe FrameMaker

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