Dual-use font?

Subject: Dual-use font?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 08 Nov 2005 15:52:55 -0500

Kirk Turner wondered: <<I am editing a state manual, and until today, my understanding was that there would be one version of the manual online and another version in a published volume. Now, I understand that there will a single manual in an online PDF that, of course, can be printed out.>>

Generally a really bad choice, and it's worth arguing about this with the client. PDF is not inherently unusable online, but it's more difficult to integrate with software to create context-sensitive help, and portrait-format manuals that print well are (in my opinion) completely unusable online. If you're distributing a PDF designed for print in the hope it can also be used online, you might just as well say you're not providing online help and be done with it. At least design it in landscape format so it can be printed that way too, while remaining readable onscreen.

<<I had specified different fonts for online and print, but now I need a font that will suit both media. Is there a scheme (headings and body text) that is the standard for such a scenario?>>

You're starting from a false assumption here. With relatively little design work up-front, you can create a template optimized for print use and another one optimized for online use (including landscape orientation). Write the manual in a single file, optimized for print (i.e., using the print template), then when it's time to publish, open that file, apply the online template, do a "save as", then generate the online version of the PDF. Think of this as "single sourcing". <g>

Depending on the nature of the manual, you may need to whip through it and fix a few bad page breaks, but you can minimize this with careful design of the style definitions.

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Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)
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Dual-use font: From: Kirk Turner

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