RE: How to make symbols stand out?

Subject: RE: How to make symbols stand out?
From: "David Downing" <DavidDowning -at- users -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2002 13:15:58 -0500


Our approach has been to put the symbols in bold. For example, in the
sentence "Enter ? to see a list of choices," The question mark would be
in bold.

-----Original Message-----
From: Hart, Geoff [mailto:Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA]
Sent: Thursday, December 12, 2002 2:45 PM
Subject: How to make symbols stand out?


Karen West is <<... updating a software manual which refers to various
symbols. When these symbols are referred to out of context they are
enclosed
in round brackets, for example: The switch character is shown as a
forward
slash (/) and then in the index it appears as: forward slash (/)>>

The problem with this approach is that symbols go by many and varied
names;
/ could be "forward slash" (for English alphabets), "backward slash"
(for
Semitic alphabets), or "divided by" sign, for example. And as you note,
putting them in brackets causes problems when you're trying to define
brackets: braces ({}) round brackets (())

One way to format them in running text is to use quotation marks (e.g.,
the
"/" symbol), but of course that won't work if you're using quotation
marks
as a symbol. An alternative might be to simply insert a double space
around
the symbol character, which would make it stand out from the surrounding
words. For that matter, you might be able to write things such as: "use
the
/ to separate commands" rather than "use the forward slash "/" to
separate
commands". An "explain it then provide an example" approach might also
work:
Use the forward slash to separate command parameters. For example:
Format C:
/yesIreallymeanit /banzai!

For the index, one effective solution would be to place all symbols at
the
beginning of the index or in a separate index of symbols, and if you
choose
to use textual index entries such as "forward slash", provide only a
cross-reference to the symbol index (e.g., "see index of symbols on page
xx"
or "see list of symbols at the start of this index").

--Geoff Hart, geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada
580 boul. St-Jean
Pointe-Claire, Que., H9R 3J9 Canada

"Writing, in a way, is listening to the others' language and reading
with
the others' eyes."--Trinh T. Minh-Ha, "Woman native other"


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