- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: Microsoft Press; 3rd edition (July 3, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0735617465
- ISBN-13: 978-0735617469
- Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #554,719 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications 3rd Edition
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Lamentably the CD-ROM that accompanies the new version 3 of the MS MOS is a giant step backwards in usability. That's because the two PDF "e-books" (MOS and Networking Encyclopedia) on the CD-ROM are entirely static -- they contain NO clickable links WHATSOEVER.
What this means is that if you locate an entry in the on-line version's TOC or Index, you must use the "go to page" tool in Adobe Acrobat Reader to go to the page. This is an especially silly situation given that the PDFs meta-properties indicate that Microsoft used Adobe FrameMaker 7.0 (not Word) to produce the Style Guide: FrameMaker creates clickable cross-references by default, meaning that Microsoft manually disabled them as part of producing the Style Guide's PDF! (The third item on the CD-ROM, the Computer Dictionary comes as an HTMLHelp .chm file, so there are no problems with navigation there...)
If you intend to buy the print version of the MS MOS you'll be satisfied. If you intend to buy this book because you want the latest, greatest *on-line* version of the Style Guide, FORGET IT.
08 July, 2008 UPDATE. After using the PDF for about three years, I'm even more frustrated by Microsoft's incompetence. In the name of "intellectual property" (one of Microsoft's favorite words), the company has created a nearly-useless PDF while failing to truly achieve its misguided security aims.
As I said in my original review, the lack of clickable cross-references means you must instead manually go to a page listed in the TOC or Index. But wait -- the geniuses at Microsoft didn't bother to correlate the PDFs logical and physical page numbers. Yes, if we have full-featured Acrobat we can manually number the pages so that when we tell Acrobat or Reader to go page "x" it actually displays the desired page and not page "x-4" or thereabouts. But why should we have to do that?
But wait, it gets worse. We can't use full-featured Adobe Acrobat (as opposed to reader) to extract pages from the PDF and save them as a separate PDF. BUT we can -- and here's the absurdity -- delete all pages we don't want to extract and save the result of that as a PDF. So we can extract pages, but not directly...
We also can't print *any part* of the PDF. So if we want to print, say, four pages about heading usages we can't do that. The style guidelines are in some way "proprietary" I guess, and so simply must be protected against unauthorized sharing...
Then, too, while looking for a way to print a few pages, I discovered that I couldn't export the PDF as a Postscript or encapsulated Postscript, but I could export it as a Word or Word RTF file. So we can save the contents in some unlocked formats but not others. Brilliant...
In the end, Microsoft's preoccupation with "locking up" the online version of its Style Guide has only succeeded in wrecking the Guide's usability while only partially achieving the desired level of security. How like Microsoft to get it wrong that way...
I'm not going to go to specify which entries Microsoft has updated for this edition...I'll simply say that I have yet to look for an entry that should be there that wasn't. It's exactly what you'd expect for a new edition...it seems to be thorough.
What I did like is the book's new organization. It's divided into two sections:
1. General Topics
2. Usage Dictionary
The Usage Dictionary is essentially just like the 2nd edition, with all the latest XP terms and stuff. It's what I expected to get when I purchased the book.
The General Topics section is this volume's great improvement. Whereas topics like procedure guidelines, screen terminology, and grammatical suggestions were scattered throughout the 2nd edition (i.e., listed alphabetically) the editors realized that the 3rd edition would serve readers well if these types of entries had their own section. Consequently, the first 182 pages of the book contain chapters titled
1. Documenting the User Interface (includes naming conventions for screen terminology, dialog boxes, menus, etc.)
2. Content Formatting and Layout
3. Global Content
4. Content for Software Developers
5. Web Content
6. Indexing and Attributing
7. Tone and Rhetoric
8. Accessible Content
9. Common Style Problems
10. Grammatical Elements
12. List of Acronyms and Abbreviations
This first section is so good, in fact, that it should be considered standard reading for anyone who's going to be writing technical documents. It's comprehensive yet easy-to-read.
The book also comes with a CD-ROM that contains electronic versions of the following:
1. Microsoft Manual of Style, 3rd Edition
2. Microsoft Computer Dictionary, 5th Edition
3. Microsoft Encyclopedia of Networking, 2nd Edition
These e-books are not as convenient to use as the e-books that came with the 2nd edition (the new Style Manual e-book is just a big PDF), but they are nice resources to have...and I'll take what I can get. Certainly not a bad deal for the price.
The book originally had a suggested price of US $29.99, CN $43.99. The same book now sells upwards of US $100, on this and other web sites.
The 3rd Edition was published in 2004, and I'm guessing from the publishing history of the previous editions that Microsoft will bring out the 4th Edition before the end of 2011. If you can get by with an alternate resource until then, save yourself some money and wait.
If you absolutely have to have this book, then by all means order your copy from one of the fine merchants here.
On the other hand, if you know with absolute certainty that Microsoft will never publish another edition, you might consider buying several copies as investments :)
I will order the 4th Edition of this book because this edition covers Office 2003 and the 4th Edition covers Office 2010/2013 which is now coming into its own as people are switching and relearning the new Office 2010/2013/2007.
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