Landscape vs. Portrait

Subject: Landscape vs. Portrait
From: "Latella, Vincent" <VINCENT -dot- LATELLA -at- saic -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 23 Oct 2009 17:20:03 -0400

I'm currently writing a user guide for a proprietary application that features some *really* busy-looking screens. Some of the tasks described in this user guide require the user to view and analyze all of the information on a given screen.

For that reason, I've taken some screenshots that span the entire width of the window at hand (cropped above and below the relevant area, so that they're narrow, but wide).

The call-outs describing what's shown in each of these screenshots have gotten downright scary; because I'm squeezing the entire window width onto an 8 ½" piece of paper*, I've had to densely pack call-out descriptions above and below each screenshot.

Obviously, this isn't optimal from a usability standpoint, so I'm revising it.

My manager suggests that I split each wide screenshot into two separate shots, and space everything out over multiple pages if need be. My fear there is that the users will lose some context in the transition, and my manager acknowledges that it's a valid concern.

My alternative suggestion was to change the document's orientation to landscape, so that I'm dealing with 11" of space instead of 8 ½". As a sample, I went ahead and re-oriented one of the pages with the crazy call-outs, and lo and behold, it's substantially more manageable and less frightening. I showed my manager, and he agrees that it's a big improvement.

That said, are there any rules regarding document orientation that would apply here? I'm using IBM's style guide, and I couldn't find anything regarding page orientation in it. Am I violating some sacred law of technical communication here? If I go with a landscape format, are there any hidden caveats about which I should be concerned? Lastly, am I missing some far superior alternative solution?

Thanks, and sorry for posing this kind of a question on a Friday Afternoon!


(*The guide will ultimately be a user-printable .pdf.)


Free Software Documentation Project Web Cast: Covers developing Table of
Contents, Context IDs, and Index, as well as Doc-To-Help
2009 tips, tricks, and best practices.

Help & Manual 5: The complete help authoring tool for individual
authors and teams. Professional power, intuitive interface. Write
once, publish to 8 formats. Multi-user authoring and version control!

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Please move off-topic discussions to the Chat list, at:


Previous by Author: Re: Bulleted Lists
Next by Author: RE: Landscape vs. Portrait
Previous by Thread: Re: Other tech writing courses
Next by Thread: RE: Landscape vs. Portrait

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads