Re[2]: Rhetorical question about formatting devices :-)

Subject: Re[2]: Rhetorical question about formatting devices :-)
From: CHRISTINE ANAMEIER <CANAMEIE -at- email -dot- usps -dot- gov>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 12:26:04 -0400

Dick wrote: "Many people are moving away from the use of bold, italic,
font changes, etc., to signify much of anything at all with respect to
the user interface. It tends to make the page look as if it has
measles, and is distracting to the reader."

This is one school of thought, but I'm not sure it's a trend.
Personally, I resist the trend to remove such formatting. I don't want
my pages to look like a ransom note, but some basic formatting can be
useful. For instance, in procedures, I put screen elements in bold
when they're part of a step (though not necessarily when they're
provided for context):
1. From the File menu, select *Print*.
2. In the Print dialog box, click *OK*.

... and so on. I want the user to be able to pick up the basic steps
by quickly scanning the page, and the bold type helps those elements
stand out.

In Dick's example, I would have:
1. In the Edit User window, enter a *User ID* and *Initial password*.
< cropped screen capture showing this part of the window, with a
sample ID and password filled in and the mouse pointer hovering over
the Submit button >
2. Click *Submit*.

That way the user can glance at the words or the image and immediately
see "User ID... initial password... Submit."

A cleaner look can be a good thing, but I try to achieve that by
trimming verbiage and using more graphics and tables (carefully
designed, with minimal "chartjunk") to communicate the information.
Visual homogeneity is not a plus, IMO, when it means that the most
important bits of information blend into the background.


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