Re: Screen-cap formatting (was RE: Rhetorical question abou

Subject: Re: Screen-cap formatting (was RE: Rhetorical question abou
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 15:47:09 -0400

Kevin McLauchlan asked:
<< How do you crop a screen cap? Just hack off everything that's not
immediately relevant...? Or do you have some visual convention that
you use to show that "this is just the currently interesting portion
of a larger screen (that we aren't bothering to show you, just now)"?

I tried a few different things early on, like the blurred or ragged
edge you describe. What I finally settled on was to just crop out a
rectangular section with plain edges and give it a faint drop
shadow--partly to differentiate it from the page background in the
document, partly to hint that this was a chunk of a screen.

If a window requires scrolling to get all the important stuff, it gets
more complicated--then I take two screen captures, crop both, and put
the relevant sections about 1/8" apart, with a jagged edge to show
where material was removed, and a drop shadow for both parts. It winds
up looking a bit like two jigsaw pieces. (Hard to describe. If my
description isn't clear, let me know and I can email you an example.)
Photoshop is excellent for creating these images because you can use
different layers for each half of the image.

The section I choose contains the relevant part of the screen, with
enough stuff around it for context. If there's any ambiguity about
which part of a screen capture I'm referring to, I circle it, use a
callout, etc. I don't like using full-screen screen captures, because
they invariably get shrunk to the point of illegibility to fit in the
page margins, and all those blurry shrunken screens start to look
alike, thereby losing their usefulness. I rarely resize the screen
captures. Cropping them is usually sufficient to fit them onto the
page. So, text size is consistent from one image to the next.

In my previous contract I was working on a doc for an audience that
included many non-native speakers of English, so I leaned heavily on
screen captures. This "less text, more images" approach went over well
with native speakers and non-native speakers alike, and I became
increasingly sold on it myself. Using cropped screen captures enabled
me to load up the manual with images, either under or next to the
relevant text (depending on page layout, image size, etc), without
wasting page space, and users could immediately zero in on the
relevant sections.

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