Re: Rules or white space for separating rows and columns?

Subject: Re: Rules or white space for separating rows and columns?
From: Tim Mantyla <TimMantyla -at- nustep -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com, admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2008 11:17:00 -0400

The perfect topic to trap a suggestion for this list that's been wafting
like a dandelion seed in my mind:

A visual examples page--a big, white space--on TECHWR-L set up for posts
like those below for screen captures, graphs, charts and other images.
1280 x 1024 pixels = 1000s of words.

Eric, is this doable?

Tim Mantyla
Communications Representative
NuStep, Inc. -
"Transforming Lives"

Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail

Patricia Egan wrote:

> This discussion came up at work not long ago. The graphics team deleted
> vertical rules from the table template and the SMEs hollered. I did some
> research. ...When I presented my findings
> in a slide presentation, I used the same table, once with the vertical
> showing and then with the vertical rules hidden. Using a large screen, I
> flipped back and forth between the two versions. The spacing was exactly
> same in both; only the vertical rules were different--shown or hidden.
> experience resembled sitting with the eye doctor and being asked which
> better, A or B. You might like to try it yourself.
> Pat
> On 6/17/08, Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca> wrote:
> >
> > Milan Davidovic reported the following advice: <<From Carolyn Rude,
> > "Technical Editing" 2nd ed., p. 167: "Vertical and horizontal lines
> > (rules) separating rows and columns are discouraged except for highly
> > complex tables because the lines clutter the table with visual noise.
> > White space is the preferred method for separating rows and columns.
> > Too much space between columns, however, may result in inaccurate
> > reading because the eye may skip to a lower or higher row.">>
> >
> > Good basic advice, but not to be taken as a rule <ahem> of nature.


> > For cell data that align neatly (e.g., all left justified or decimal
> > aligned), you don't usually need vertical lines, because it's easy to
> > scan vertically downwards without skipping to another column.
> > Horizontal lines are more necessary, particularly in wide tables,
> > because it's more easy to skip lines. So you'll often find it
> > necessary to insert horizontal lines or white space, but not vertical
> > lines.
> >
> > <<Right now, I'm building a template in the shadow of legacy
> > documentation that is chock full of tables, almost all of which make
> > full use of rules to separate rows and columns; relatively few of
> > these tables are "complex". If I follow Rude's advice, I'm pretty
> > sure I'll experience some opposition.>>
> > If you're old enough to remember the paper used for line
> > printers (and some smaller dot matrix printers), you'll be familiar
> > with another alternative that often works even better than white
> > space and lines: use light color shading to group rows of data. For
> > example, a 10% or 20% grey can be used to group one set of adjacent
> > rows...

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