RE: Nielsen's Rating

Subject: RE: Nielsen's Rating
From: "Brierley, Sean" <Sean -at- Quodata -dot- Com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2001 09:45:20 -0400


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Steve Hudson [SMTP:steve -at- wright -dot- com -dot- au]
> Huh? In my press-quality PDF I use Type 1 fonts and provide images at up
> to
> 1200 dpi. The PDF transports these perfectly, AND we are using a custom
> page
> size. So I am afraid I simply cannot understand that there is any basis in
> reality for Master Plato's following comments:
> > Graphics resolution in PDF is horrible. And don't even think of using
> anything but standard fonts and layouts.
Word does a better job of displaying graphics than does Acrobat Reader, any
version. Agreed. However, graphics resolution is something over which the
creator has complete control, so if it is horrible, it is a user problem not
a tool problem.

That is, consider the source of the graphic and the destination. If you are
only outputting/delivering to the screen, then only use 96 dpi images and
you'll be all set. If you are delivering to both screen and print, then you
will need to compromise or use two sets of graphics. This is not an Acrobat
problem, it is a situation caused by the fact that screen displays are fixed
at 96 dpi whereas printers have linescreens in the 150-lpi range.

And, btw, PDFs do not have to be 8.5x11 inches. Far from it. They can
certainly by 640x480 pixels. Indeed, with FrameMaker or Word you can use two
sets of templates to quickly reformat a US-letter document to 640x480 pixels
to generate for-screen output. Speaking of such tools, both Word and
FrameMaker are equally capable of producing PDFs of the same maximum
quality. That is, if you cannot use Word to produce PDFs of the same quality
as FrameMaker, or FrameMaker to produce PDFs of the same Quality as Word,
then your skills need a tweak. This is not a software thing. It's a user

Now, readability. My users could give a rat's @## about particular font
faces, line length, white space, etc. Certainly, my readers' priority is
accurate information. HOWEVER, if you have the professional ability, you can
help your reader more easily read and comprehend the accurate information by
carefully selecting your fonts, choosing line lengths that work, and
formatting your document to accommodate the use of white space. Don't
believe me? Try typing your technically correct information using Courier
with ALL CAPS and see what you think. Or, try using a heavy, bold, condensed
serif font. You see, the readers might not have a particular interest in
fonts and the like if you ask them directly, but they sure will appreciate
your understanding and use of those things.

Beating up on tools or seminars for these things is wrongheaded. You know
what, you can care about the tools you use in your profession and want to
attend and learn from seminars on things like typography AND STILL BE
PRODUCTIVE. Indeed, I would hope technical writers understand page layout
theories, font designs and uses, and the like. You see, any secretary--or
bricklayer for that matter--can dumbly type the technically accurate notes
left by the SME, engineer, programmer, or other such individual. I would
hope and like to believe that technical writers bring something more to the
table. This is not about Adobe, or Microsoft, or PDF, or HTML, or Word, or
FrameMaker . . . it's about the productivity and publications skills you
bring to the table, including your ability to select the right tool for the
job or make the wrong tool dance.


Best regards,

Sean Brierley
sean -at- quodata -dot- com

Lead Bricklayer

> However, comments like the following get nothing but sustained applause:
> > How come writers are always worried about "readability" but the only way
> they ever suggest improving it is to purchase complex new tools or attend
> seminars?


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