RE: Screen Text Alignment

Subject: RE: Screen Text Alignment
From: "Lisa Wright" <liwright -at- earthlink -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 3 Jan 2002 07:45:05 -0800

Dear Radwa,
The answer to your question is "it depends," though there are two
guiding principles I use for field length: If you've got one field
significantly longer than the rest, align the ones that are similar in
length and then deal with the long one separately. Or perhaps try
placing it along side, rather than below, the other fields. Also, always
left-align your fields (I don't think I've ever seen any disagreement on
that point though now that I've said it I'm sure there will be).

caption edit box
----- -----
-------- -----
--- -----
------ -----

caption edit box
-------- -----
--- -----
----- -----
---- -----

At my last job, where I did all of the interface design for almost 2
years, the developers preferred to use right-aligned field labels next
to left-aligned fields, and pushed hard on the point. We had designed
the interface to use left-aligned fields labels with left aligned
fields. "Everybody on the web does right-aligned fields," they said.
After they pushed and pushed, I went back and looked again to see if it
really would be easier/better/more professional to do it that way.

The conclusion I came to was this: for simple, web-based forms, such as
subscription forms where there is a single column of text, the
right-aligned field label/left-aligned field provides a linear,
easy-to-read form. Lots of people do that. But even on the web, many
people do a left/left combination for such a form. So it's not as simple
as "everybody does it."

For more complicated interfaces in applications, web-based or otherwise,
it can be a toss-up, but in my judgment, left/left was generally easier
to read and it was easier to balance the interface when the labels and
fields were of varying lengths. The best interfaces I saw that used
right-aligned fields created balanced columns or "blocks" of fields
across the interface. Siebel is one example that uses this technique.

Regardless of what you choose, balance, symmetry and use of "white"
space still apply, as they do with all page design, be it online or
paper. As with anything, become familiar with the major guiding
principles and figure out what applies to your situation. Find out what
the different schools of thought are, and then make your own decisions.

Here are some of the resources I found incredibly helpful in designing
interfaces and assessing usability: "Interface Hall of Shame" is a great site! Jakob Nielsen is the original usability guru--many
people find him extreme. Jared Spool is challenging some of the
long-held beliefs about usability and design.

GUI Bloopers: Don'ts and Do's for Software developers and web designers
by Jeff Johnson

Sun created the Java Swing interface standards:
Look at as many interface standards as you can find.

I also took a very helpful course on interface design for tech writers
through the Rocky Mountain Chapter of STC ( I can't find
the info right now, but maybe somebody out there has it.



Collect Royalties, Not Rejection Letters! Tell us your rejection story when you
submit your manuscript to iUniverse Nov. 6 -Dec. 15 and get five free copies of
your book. What are you waiting for?

Have you looked at the new content on TECHWR-L lately?
See and check it out.

You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as: archive -at- raycomm -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Screen Text Alignment: From: Radwa Darwish

Previous by Author: Difference between process and task-based?
Next by Author: RE: New TECHWR-L Poll Question
Previous by Thread: Screen Text Alignment
Next by Thread: Re: Converting Word index to PDF

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads