Recent User Assistance Studies on Printed Books?

Subject: Recent User Assistance Studies on Printed Books?
From: Lorraine Kiewiet <lkiewiet -at- earthlink -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Mon, 6 Aug 2007 19:03:03 -0400 (EDT)

Hi Wr-lers. To make a long story short.

Background: I recently joined a company with little experience in creating user documentation. They are a rapidly growing software firm. There are two tech writers and a manager, and there has been a lot of turnover. Before the three people who are here today arrived, the technical managers made the switch from a 7.5 x 9 inch printed book with consecutive page numbering in favor of an 8.5 x 11 printed manual with the 'chapter-level' page numbering. Also, paragraph leading and font choices make the long, gray blocks of text difficult to read.

Today's question: Given that they think this looks good, are there any studies out there to support the more standard practices that we three on the doc team want to move to? Examples: for internationalization, we believe that the book should be 7.5 x 9. For readability, the body font should be serif, and more than 3 points of line leading are needed between paragraphs.

Thanks for any pointers to studies, journal articles, wiki's.

Lorraine Kiewiet\r\nTechnical Writing & Consulting\r\nOnline & Print Documentation

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