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HomeGuidelines > 5. Reduce cognitive burdens. . > 5d. Surface the agent and action> Challenges





Audience Fit


Bonus! Hot Text chapter (105K, PDF, 2 minutes at 56K)


Make these sentences active. Discover the agent who is doing the action.  Figure out what the action really is.


A field of color which is varied along the line which can be constructed between the start and end coordinates, if you will, and is or can be extended indefinitely, perpendicular to that original line, is defined by this type of shading.




The packet can be identified by the user by the coding on the side.




The damage was caused by the water seepage, which was begun when the faucet was turned on and left on, by the night manager.




If a UNIX system is being booted from another computer over a LAN, the operator should be assured that the LAN cables are correctly connected, terminated at each end with a 50 ohm terminator, but connected to computers by T-connectors, these being placed within the length of the cabling, not at the ends, and that the remote boot daemon is running on the source system.




The data in the warehouse is confirmed to be subject-oriented, integrated, non-volatile, and time-variant. Topics such as customers, employees, vendors, products are to be defined as subject-oriented information. Integration is the pulling together of data from multiple systems, which may not be in agreement in defining terms. These disagreements must be resolved by the operator. Whatever data is included in the warehouse must be time coded, so that studies can be run on historical (5 to 10 years old) and current information. Generally, the last 90 days worth of transactions can be considered current, and earlier transactions must be summarized, because the volume is too great to store and access all of them; on the other hand, customer data can be preserved going back ten years. All the data in the warehouse is non-volatile, too, because it is a kind of snapshot of information in other databases, caught once a day, once a week, or once a month, and the warehouse itself is read-only.


Other ways to make your text easier to understand:

5a. Reduce the number of clauses per sentence.

5b. Blow up nominalizations and noun trains.

5c. Watch out for ambiguous phrases a user might have to debate.

5d. Surface the agent and action, so users don't have to guess.

5e. Make a positive statement.

5f. Reduce scrolling.

5g. Let users print or save the entire document at once.


The original fruit stand was set up in 1925 by the Cappucino family. In 1945, the store in Greenwich Village was opened by Louis Cappucino, and gourmet foods were imported from around the world. 


Resources on thoughtlessness

Taking a Position on Thoughtlessness

Heuristic Online Text (H. O. T.) Evaluation of Cognitive Burdens




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