Your typographic conventions and justification for

Subject: Your typographic conventions and justification for
From: Nancy Allison <maker -at- verizon -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Thu, 04 Feb 2010 10:20:40 -0600 (CST)

What fonts do you use in your documents (beyond the usual body text, header, footer, and heading fonts)? Our body text font (for PDFs) is Times New Roman. We document hardware and user interfaces, but not internal software programming, so beyond giving installation and upgrade instructions, we don't deal with code-related terms.

We use these typographical conventions:

--Bold Arial -- anything the user selects or clicks, or any text the user enters. Also all Note, Caution, and Warning text (which is set off by leading above and below and marked by an icon to the left. In addition, Warnings are set off by a black box.)

--Italic -- introducing new terms, titles of publications.

--Monospace -- system error messages and prompts, (and code samples, which are extremely rare for us).

You see that we keep alternate typefaces to a minimum.

We capitalize the titles of UI windows, dialog boxes, prompts, etc. but do not use a different typeface. Oh, dear, I see that the Microsoft Manual of Style 3rd edition recommends bolding the names of dialog boxes. I don't see a need for it -- isn't the capitalization enough of a hint?

I remember documents, at other clients, that had to have a lengthy table at the front explaining the significance of 5 or 6 typefaces. It seemed to be unduly complicated and we doubted that it was helpful for readers. In the years since, I have observed a trend toward simplification, which I support.

I am preparing for a discussion of this issue and wondered what other tech writers do. What do you do, and what reference books or standards do you rely on? Can you recommend any other books or standards for me to take a look at?


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