Re: Grapics Placement

Subject: Re: Grapics Placement
From: Al Geist <al -dot- geist -at- geistassociates -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Tue, 07 Mar 2006 15:58:52 -0500

C. A. Cherry wrote:

In her book "Human Factors for Technical Communicators" (ISBN
0-471-03530-0), Marlana Coe recommends:

"Place graphics so that they fall on the left visual field, where data is
processed by the right half of the brain."


From an aesthetic perspective, centered pix look old-fashioned to me.
Aligning the left edge of the pix with the left edge of the text looks
better to me, though I cannot articulate why.

Graphic placement all depends on the document and document style. For example, if you're working on a technical marketing piece, I would place the graphic so it will help draw the reader into the page (or to the next page, or to the specific piece of information you really want them to discover).

For user manuals, I tend to place graphics so they line up with the outside margin of the body text, unless I'm using a two column format and the graphic is one column wide. Then, I usually place them in the center of the column. If the graphic is larger than two columns, and cannot be reduced without causing readability issues, I center it on the page and place it such that it does not split paragraphs.

If you are using a one column format, place the graphics away from the inside margin. This means that some of the graphics could be to the right, some could be to the left, but they all will look consistent and not out of place.

In all cases, I am assuming double sided printing. If your output is PDF, then I would still follow the same guide because a lot of PDF files end up being printed at some time. Setting it up for double sided printing saves the customer money.

Another important aspect of graphic placement is location. I try to place a graphic as close to the end of the referencing paragraph as I can. If you write "See Figure 3-2....." in the middle of the second paragraph of the first column, don't place Figure 3.2 three pages later because you can pack it in with four other images. (I've seen it done before and it's not a pretty sight.) Place Figure 3.2 at the end of the referencing paragraph.

I would suggest looking at other manuals, documents from other companies, or even books like the one suggested above and see how their graphics are placed. Then pick whichever suits you the best and be consistent.


Al Geist
Technical Writing, Online Help, Marketing Collateral, Web Design, Award Winning Videos, Professional Photography
Voice/Msg: 802-658-3140
E-mail: al -dot- geist -at- geistassociates -dot- com <mailto:al -dot- geist -at- geistassociates -dot- com>
URL: <> (online portfolio/resume)

See also:
URL: <> (fine art prints for home or office and note cards for all occasions)

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RE: Grapics Placement: From: C. A. Cherry

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