We use four special types of notices: notes, cautions, warnings, and dangers. Here are some specific rules and tips with regard to these notices:
- Do not use a notice directly after a heading. Notices must follow a variant of body text.
- Avoid back-to-back notices.
- To improve readability, rewrite content to eliminate multiple notices in a single module.
- If there is no clean way to avoid using back-to-back notices, use a different style or multiple paragraphs, for example, combine two notes into one or separate them with body text.
Use notes sparingly. Avoid having more than one note per subsection. If you exceed this number consistently, consider rewriting the notes as main body text. Example:
A note is supposed to provide supplemental information, not emphasized information.
Cautions, Warnings, and Dangers
Tell readers what will happen if they do not heed cautions or warnings, circuits will fry, electrical shock may kill you, etc.
- Use “Caution” to identify hazards resulting in property damage accidents, including data loss. Also use “Caution” to alert against unsafe practices.
- Use “Warning” and “Danger” for property damage accidents only if personal injury risk appropriate to these levels is also involved.
These are examples of typical notices, the correct syntax and the conditions for their usage:
Notes are ancillary bits of information, subordinate to the main flow. Reserve the note tag for information that does not readily flow with the main text but which you want to set apart for one reason or another. Notes should be relatively short. If there is more than enough information to warrant a short paragraph, consider rewriting the note as body text.
Cautions are low-level hazard messages that alert the user of possible equipment, product, and software damage, including loss of data. Cautions typically appear as a yellow triangle with a black exclamation point.
Warnings are mid-level hazards (more serious than cautions) that are likely to cause product damage as well as bodily injury to humans. Warnings may appear in a black triangle with orange hazard- specific graphics for warnings (or with the colors reversed). The most common warning is for electrical hazards, but there are many other hazard-specific graphics.
Dangers are high-level hazards that are likely to cause product damage as well as bodily injury and even death to humans. Dangers use a red triangle with white (and black) hazard-specific graphics, the same as found on warnings.