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Read Me First! A Style Guide for the Computer Industry (2nd Edition) 2nd Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0131428997
ISBN-10: 0131428993
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

The must-have reference for every technical writer, editor, and documentation manager—now fully updated!

Read Me First! is the definitive guide to creating technical documentation that is clear, consistent, and easy to understand. Sun Microsystems' award-winning technical writers and editors cover everything from grammar to clarity, illustrations to workflow. This fully revised second edition reflects dramatic changes in the production and delivery of technical documentation. Coverage includes:

  • Detailed grammar, punctuation, typographic, and legal guidelines
  • Extensive guidance on creating effective step-by-step procedures
  • Techniques for documenting Web applications and graphical user interfaces
  • Expert help with creating indexes and glossaries
  • Extensive recommendations for using hyperlinks
  • Checklists and forms for editing, tracking manuscripts, and verifying production status
  • Guidelines for using commonly confused words and terms
  • Practical tips for gender-neutral writing
  • Internationalization guidelines that simplify translation and improve clarity for non-native English speakers
  • Real-world help for managers: hiring writers, working with illustrators, managing schedules and workflow, coordinating with printers, and more
  • Expanded and updated recommended reading list

About the Author

The Members of Sun Technical Publications are award-winning senior editors and writers for Sun Microsystems, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall; 2 edition (May 16, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0131428993
  • ISBN-13: 978-0131428997
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,399,076 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By W Boudville HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on September 12, 2005
Sun offers a style sheet for technical writers. These suggestions are used by Sun in its documents and are a very clean and internally consistent guide. Of course, it is not restricted to descriptions of Sun's products. A lot of care has gone into the guide.

Plus, the suggestions are not just for printed documents. Nowadays, a lot is expressed in languages with links, like HTML or PDF, and the advice pertains here too.

For illustrations, you are shown how to display interactable icons differently from non-interactable images. Subtleties, to be sure. But taking these into consideration makes for a clean document.

On the subject of documents with links, a chapter has cogent suggestions on the proper usage. Like avoiding overlinking, which is a common flaw amongst writers new to this. Also avoid linking with anchor text that is generic, like "click this". Instead, use more descriptive strings to help search engines classify the document that is pointed to. Assuming that both documents will be on the Web. But even if not, they might still be in your internal corporate web, and you might have an internal search engine spidering these. The strings will help the engine better classify both documents. This chapter may be the most vital of the book.
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The first edition of this style guide was good, especially if you wanted an alternative to the Microsoft Manual of Style, but this edition is even better. It covers a wider range of issues (for example, adding much information about writing online material), and covers them very well. In fact, the book goes a bit beyond style in an appendix on developing a publications department, but the topics covered are certainly relevant and valuable, so I'm glad they were included. I don't always agree with the style choices, but that's irrelevant; I've never seen any style guide I completely agree with. Overall, I'm so impressed with this book, I'm likely to use it as a textbook for teaching technical editors. As you can tell, I'm giving it the "highly recommended" stamp.
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I found an errata page shipped with the book stating that some of the index entries were off by 1-2 pages. Although the errata sheet gives a download link for a PDF for the corrected index, an errata sheet is not something we expect from a production document from Sun Technical Publications. Otherwise, the book is great as usual (I have the earlier edition as well). I have referred to the Organize Text by Task Map section (page 91) several times in my consulting jobs.
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This is a great book that tackles every aspect of software documentation with enough detail to get you started. Read Me First gives the push you need to begin laying down your own styles. It also reviews some basic grammatical issues that you as a Technical Writer must be aware of. I would recommend using several style guides if your company doesn't already have one. The Microsoft Style Guide is another great reference to consider. I gave this book 5 stars because of its easy to read format.
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