RE: Design of online documents

Subject: RE: Design of online documents
From: "technicoid" <technicoid -at- cableone -dot- net>
To: "'TECHWR-L'" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 2 Mar 2004 17:33:07 -0700

>Currently, all but one of our document types are delivered in
>.pdf format on a CD. Contrary to what I've been taught over the
>years, I'm being told that documents delivered in .pdf format
>need to be designed primarily for the printout the end-user
>will ultimately print. My experience in this field has taught
>me that online documents need to be treated as an online document,
>with the use of color, links, et cetera.

It's nice theory, and if your audience tends to view these documents
online, then the idea has merit. Back when I first used PDF, I designed
a landscaped page with additional navigation elements for ease of use.
It was very navigable. No one wanted to deal with the print problems
associated with distributing it.

These days, I prefer to provide a help system and PDF of a printable
document, both generated from the same source but with some variation to
account for each medium. The help system (MS WinHelp) allows you to
launch the PDF from every topic, and the content varies enough to make
them each usable in their own realms.

If you really want your users to have an online document, I recommend a
different output format than PDF. It's not that you can't design a
usable PDF online. It's just not a very good dual-purpose option. You
can design a document for print and still provide some online
navigation. I develop in Frame and use a blue character style for my
cross-references. When most people print, the blue us dark enough to be
readable, while style providing a visual cue online to indicate
hypertext. Granted, it's not as flexible as a real online help format,
but it provides some hints for quicker access.

technicoid -at- cableone -dot- net

Design of online documents: From: HSC Italian

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