Re: Typographical treatment of GUI components

Subject: Re: Typographical treatment of GUI components
From: "Michael West" <mbwest -at- removebigpond -dot- net -dot- au>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 15 Jul 2003 07:43:52 +1000

"anice wrote:

> ... asone of the authors, I
> can explain the reasoning behind this decision, as it
> is our in-house style as well.

Was the "reasoning" based on field testing,
or prejudice and opinion?

> We have found that one mostly refers to GUI component
> names in documents containing many procedures. The use
> of bold for GUI components in procedure after procedure
> means that the bolding, which is supposed to stand out
> in comparison to regular text, is so frequent that any
> given item doesn't really stand out.

But typically a user is reading only *one*
procedure, not a bunch of them -- so the
bold terms in that one procedure *do* stand
out against other words in the procedure.
Especially since it is the individual procedural
*step* that is the working unit -- not the
whole page. This is particularly true in online

> It also results in
> a distracting "ransom note" effect.

Not when done properly. Instructional text
is not used the same way as expository
text -- where a mixture of bold and non-bold
might hamper the forward progress of the
reader. I don't read procedures with the idea
of "reading through them" quickly, but rather
with the idea of finding out what buttons
to push do get the result I need, and then
getting out.

> Finally, the bolding
> often means that users will skip over often important
> explanatory text and just pick out the bold items.

That ability to scan for the key items is
precisely what I like about the intelligent
use of boldface. I do not want "explanatory
text" mixed up in procedures anyway. I want
any important general information first, and
*then* the procedure.

If there is critical information I should
see before I push the button, then *it*
should be flagged in an appropriate way.

I think all this shows how arbitrary and
cosmetic these kinds of decisions can be.

Mike West
Melbourne, Australia


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