Publication Date


Document Type



The consensus of the documentation literature is that users rarely use help, usually preferring to muddle through. To increase use of help, tutorials for novice users could be changed from guided presentations toward using the system’s actual help system. To determine whether this approach would increase users’ use of help when they encountered problems with an application, we developed an alternative, help-based tutorial introduction to Microsoft Publisher. We compared the behaviors of users introduced to Publisher with the help-based tutorial with the behaviors of users who learned from a traditional tutorial. A balanced study of 22 novice users of Publisher suggests that using a help-based tutorial leads to significantly greater use of help systems when users encounter problems. However, the data also suggest that the increased use of help may not lead to more effective task performance.