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ISO/IEC Standard Guides Designers of User Documentation for Software Applications

New York, Sep 09, 2008

From instruction booklets and user manuals to online help features, a new standard from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) will help software designers and developers to create effective documentation for computer users, operators, and administrators.

ISO/IEC 26514:2008, Systems and software engineering – Requirements for designers and developers of user documentation, is the first in a new family of standards that address user documentation for software applications. Applicable to both printed and on-screen formats, the requirements outlined in this new standard will ensure that these software resources address consumer needs for clarity and thoroughness in explaining the application, helping users to understand and enjoy the full benefits of the product.

The content of ISO/IEC 26514:2008 is divided into two parts. The first part contains guidelines for designers and developers of documentation, including how to establish what information users need; how to determine the way in which that information should be presented; and how to prepare the information and make it available.

The second part of the standard includes minimum requirements for user guides, including structure, information content, and format. It applies to printed user manuals, online help, tutorials, and user reference documentation.

ISO/IEC 26514:2008 was developed by ISO/IEC Joint Technical Committee (JTC) 1, Information technology, Subcommittee (SC) 7, Software and systems engineering.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) holds the secretariat to ISO/IEC JTC 1. The ANSI-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) Administrator to ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 7 is IEEE, an ANSI member and accredited standards developer.

For more information on ISO/IEC 26514:2008, see the ISO news release.

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