RE: Recent User Assistance Studies on Printed Books?

Subject: RE: Recent User Assistance Studies on Printed Books?
From: "Fred Ridder" <docudoc -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com, lkiewiet -at- earthlink -dot- net, techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Tue, 07 Aug 2007 11:58:45 -0400

I agree that 7.5" x 9" (190mm x 229mm) is not a common
*page* size, but it is a fairly common *trim* size for
soft-bound technical books. Although only a few titles on
my software reference bookshelf are exactly 7.5" x 9"
(e.g. Tom Neuberger's FrameMaker 5 book and a couple
other Sybex titles) I found none that strayed from these
dimensions by more than 1/2" in width or 3/4" in height.
For example, most titles from Microsoft Press and Addison-
Wesley were just a little narrower and a bit taller, while
Adobe manuals are 7.5" wide but a bit more than 1/2"
shorter than 9" (they seem to use a dimension that is
not a round number in either inches or millimeters...).

-Fred Ridder

From: "Combs, Richard" <richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com>
To: "Lorraine Kiewiet" <lkiewiet -at- earthlink -dot- net>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Subject: RE: Recent User Assistance Studies on Printed Books?
Date: Tue, 7 Aug 2007 08:58:38 -0600

Lorraine Kiewiet wrote:

> 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.

For internationalization, the book should use an ISO page size, such as
B5 (176 x 250 mm, about 7 x 9 7/8"). An even inch size isn't likely to
be an international standard. I've never heard of 7.5 x 9" as a standard
page size in any country, and this list of traditional American sizes
doesn't include it:

Europeans, we're told, prefer sans serif body text. Readability data is
inconclusive, I belief -- it probably depends on what you're used to and
a thousand other variables. Can't please everyone. ;-)

Leading isn't the space between paragraphs, it's the space between
lines. The "right" amount of leading depends on the font and the line
width, but 20% of the point size is a good starting point, and generally
what FM, Word, etc., default to -- so 10-point text gets 2 points of

The space between paragraphs needs to be significantly more than the
leading or you can't distinguish paragraphs. I'd recommend at least half
a line, so for 10-point text with 2-point leading (a 12-point line), at
least 6 points. For large line widths (wide text columns), more would be

As for folio numbering, I dislike it, and I think must users do, too (in
a 300-page book, where the heck is page 7-29?). You can make a case for
it if send out manuals in binders and issue revision pages (how 80s!).
I've heard it can save translation money in some workflows -- I'm
tempted to say change the workflow.

YMMV, of course. :-)


Richard G. Combs
Senior Technical Writer
Polycom, Inc.
richardDOTcombs AT polycomDOTcom
rgcombs AT gmailDOTcom

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RE: Recent User Assistance Studies on Printed Books?: From: Combs, Richard

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