There’s nothing I like more than curling up on the couch with a blanket and a good book.

The same cannot be said, however, for curling up on the couch with an instruction manual or in-product help. Even though my job as a technical editor makes me understandably biased toward the value of quality documentation, I’m realistic enough to know it’s not pleasure reading.

When we go to the Help menu or search for product information on the Internet, we’re not killing time or looking for a little light reading; we need help. We have a problem or a question, and we need an answer – the sooner, the better.

And it’s intimidating – and disheartening – when we think we’ve finally stumbled on that elusive answer only to be hit with a wall of words.

Certain that the answer to our question is buried somewhere on the page, we scroll and scan and search, words swimming before our eyes. Sometimes we’ll stick with it and eventually find the information we were seeking; other times, we simply give up because it’s not worth our time.

My coworkers and I sometimes call these articles “junk drawers.” My junk drawer at home contains everything from super glue to spare keys to Silly Putty; it’s difficult to know exactly what’s there and impossible to locate anything quickly. Unfortunately, a product’s help sometimes follows those same organizational principles (or lack thereof).

With some of our new and updated content for Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2 and R3, we’ve been working to clean out any junk drawer pages that exist and avoid creating new ones. We’ve been trying new formats to make information easier to find when you search, and easier to scan when you’ve found the right page. We’re also trying to anticipate some of your questions and structure our information in more of a Q&A format.

The Document management topic is just one example of a page that we’ve reformatted. Don’t care about the difference between document management and document handling? Skip it. But you can see right off the bat whether your question is included, and disregard the info you’re not interested in.

When you can find answers this easily, think of all the extra time you’ll have to clean out that junk drawer and curl up with that book.

How are we doing? Are we asking the right questions? Are we asking them in the right way? Tell us what you think. The AX Content: Tell us more! post explains how you can let us know what’s on your mind.