The siren call of a FAQ

The subject of how to best write a "FAQ" (frequently asked questions and their answers) frequently arises on technical writers forums. Often because it is commonly becoming an official component of a product documentation suite. It's ironic that what started as a grass roots, informal method of capturing questions commonly asked by those who don't bother reading full documentation, or as a way of providing lightweight documentation where no other existed, now falls on the shoulders of the documentation professional. One could wonder, for example, if frequently asked questions were identified while the product was being developed, why aren't those questions simply answered by the manual or quick reference card? See The Rise of the FAQ for more on this thought.

Nonetheless, there are several resources on the web of interest to FAQ-writers. The FAQ-O-Matic tool lets you easily maintain an online document, and following David Coyne's tips will get you started with your content. Even Walt Mossberg couldn't resist the lure of the FAQ-style in his recent WSJ column about the Apple iPod.

Posted: January 2, 2005 link to this item, Tweet this item, respond to this item