RE: ISO follies redux

Subject: RE: ISO follies redux
From: "Steve Hudson" <cruddy -at- optushome -dot- com -dot- au>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 8 Mar 2002 19:11:26 +1100

Ahhhh. Now the beast within reveals its true nature. The rebel against
centralised control. Quite the contraire of your thoughts, a central group
of styles can account for MOST of the documentation needs with no manual
styling. The biggest exceptions are always FORMS and ADVERTISING. Both of
these have different restrictions to tech writing.

To overly redux, I often wonder if I really need anything more than a couple
of nested heading styles, body text, bullets and numbers.

However, there are some statements that worry me more:

> I've received clarification that templates for deliverables need
not conform.

My goodness - the REAL purpose of ISO is making sure you have consistent
product! They need not conform to your INTERNAL style guide, but you sure as
____ you better have a style guide covering your deliverables or your ISO
accreditation - unless ridiculously narrowed in scope which CAN be the
case - are in trouble.

> This is one of the times I get disgusted enough to give someone exactly
they ask for, and let the poor results speak for themselves.

Uh huh. To balance that statement though, don't lower your own personal
standards. Do the best job you can under the unreasonable circumstances.
Just because the fonts suck is no reason to introduce sloppy writing.

Finally (what you originally asked for and no-one has provided yet), a
reasonable argument against full justification goes like this:

No novels use it.
No technical manuals use it.
No magazines use it.
Very few newspapers use it anymore.

Therefore we can conclude:

People have LITTLE or NO experience with this formatting
Many professional publishers whose job it is to know such things AVOID it
like the plague.
CMS doesn't advise it, nor AP or any other PUBLISHED style guide!
Thus the majority of writing on the planet is presented with left
justification only and only in the extreme cases of newspapers with multiple
parallel thin columns of text use it to enhance the column. However, the
modern way is to encapsulate the thin column stuff in a box proper or at
least lined off.

With an optimal reading gap of 4-6 inches there is no need to use columnised
text unless it is tabulated on a std page. If it isn't columnised, there is
absolutely no reading benefit gained from full justification, and the
irregular spacing it induces as a result is a deterrent to both the basic
mantra of consistency AND comprehensiveness.

This last point is where you can get your ISO freak in the butt. "So, the
ISO controls are to help promote consistency?"


"So why do we use them to promote inconsistent word spacings when words and
the white spaces between them are fundamental to any reading exercise,
regardless of whether its ISO controlled or not?"

Be prepared for a blast :-)

Steve Hudson - Word Heretic, Sydney, Australia
For Questions regarding MS-Word please use the MS news servers or a mailing
list in preference to heretic -at- tdfa -dot- com -dot- Ideally, post to and send me an email to go answer it.

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ISO follies redux: From: Alex Silbajoris

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