Re: Typographical treatment of GUI components

Subject: Re: Typographical treatment of GUI components
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 13 Jul 2003 18:39:25 -0700

David Chinell wrote:

This decision was lately challenged by one of our
engineering managers. That's why I'm asking if anyone has
any information on whether it's worthwhile or not. I'd like
some support for our decision, or to have my eyes opened to
the value of bolding these names.

My manual designs are generally praised for their cleaness and effectiveness, and I rarely use a bold weight for GUI components. In my opinion, most bold digital fonts are poorly designed comparison to the roman weights, so I prefer to avoid them altogether.

When I want to emphasize a selection, I prefer to do it in other ways, such as placing the command on a separate line. Often, all that is necessary is to specify what the GUI component is, and to give its name exactly as it appears on the interface (for example, "the Apply button" rather than simply "Apply"). If I want to use a font to emphasize a selection, one trick I've fond of is using the same font as I use for the headings, but at the same size as the rest of the body text; it helps to unify the overall design.

In general, I've noticed that, a few years ago, an astonishing variety of different fonts would be used in some manuals: one for menu items, one for commands to type, and so on. Once or twice, I noticed almost a dozen different conventions. More recently, I've observed a tendency to reduce the number of conventions - probably because more than a couple are hard to remember.

Bruce Byfield bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com 604.421.7177

"But the price that we would really pay,
I didn't see it then:
March until your feet get sore,
You never dance again."
-OysterBand, "The Fiddle and the Gun"


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Typographical treatment of GUI components: From: David Chinell

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