7. Constructing Text

Notes, Cautions, and Warnings

Notes, Cautions, and Warnings provide important information that diverges from the topic under discussion. A Note, Caution, or Warning is preceded with a strong visual cue, which draws a reader's attention to the text.

A Note usually provides related, parenthetical information, such as an explanation, tip, comment, or other useful, but not imperative, information. However, overuse of Notes is a sign of unorganized writing. If a page contains three or more Notes, decide whether you can incorporate some of the Note text into the paragraph text.

Cautions and Warnings are mandatory text that you must provide to protect the user of equipment from personal injury, or to protect hardware or software from damage. In most computer documents, writers precede the text of Cautions and Warnings with graphical symbols that are specified by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). These internationally accepted symbols were designed to alert the person working with software or handling equipment about important information.

Writing Notes

There are few constraints on the text or format you can use in a Note. Consistency in both writing style and format is important so that a reader learns to recognize a Note interjected into the text.

Some guidelines:

Here are examples of Note formats.

Note - This is an example of a Note. There are many ways in which you can format the text. However, keep the text short and relevant.

This is another example of a
Note. Hints and tips work well
in this format. Be brief.

Writing Cautions

Unlike a Note, a Caution is not optional.

Here are examples of Cautions.

Caution - Lithium batteries are not customer-replaceable parts. Do not disassemble them or attempt to recharge them.

Caution - Software hazard is present. Before copying data from a disk from an outside source, check the disk for viruses. Otherwise, you may contaminate the data on your hard disk.

Writing Warnings

Warnings, like Cautions, are not optional.

Here are some examples of Warnings.

Warning - Electrical hazard is present. Leaving the side panel off the computer exposes you to dangerous voltage and risk of electrical shock. Do not leave the side panel off while you are operating the computer.

Warning - Hot surface. The surface of the CPU chip may be hot and could cause personal injury if touched. Do not touch this component.

Warning - Risk of personal injury is present. Do not move this cabinet without help. The server weighs more than 500 kilograms. The assistance of at least three people is needed to move the server.

Warning - There is risk of irreversible destruction to data or the operating system. Follow the instructions carefully.