Re: Designing online help - book suggestions?

Subject: Re: Designing online help - book suggestions?
From: jimmy -at- breck-mckye -dot- com
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2012 15:40:59 +0100

Hi Becca - I don't have any resources on online help per se, but I can point you to some good resources on online typography and basic web design.

One free resource is "The Elements of Typographic Style - Applied to the Web" (http://webtypography.net/), which provides some good pointers on typesetting for monitor output (and practical advice on implementation). A List Apart provides some great pointers in their articles on typography (http://www.alistapart.com/topics/topic/typography/). I'd also suggest looking at some articles from Smashing Magazine (http://www.smashingmagazine.com/tag/typography/). A recent piece (http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2012/05/02/applying-macrotypography-for-readable-web-page/) provided a practical case-study in web typesetting.

As for your specific queries:
- font-size will depend on the face. Verdana has particularly large glyphs;
Arial rather narrow ones. Typical guidelines are to go no smaller than
13px size, and define font-sizes in ems rather than absolute pixels, so
users may resize the content in their browsers.
- choose font-colour carefully. Anything lighter than #666666 grey on white
will be too low-contrast. Stark blacks can look unprofessional; I'm a fan
of setting body copy at #2b2b2b. YMMV.
- your paper topics shouldn't be any longer than they need to be anyway.

Also, do be wary of the limitations of web typesetting. There are only a small number of websafe fonts that you may assume all users have. Whilst it is possible to embed other fonts in your webpage, you should speak to your system administrator to discuss the bandwidth implications.

Finally, do read up on CSS text formatting controls - you can kern, set leading and define granular font weights (for most fonts, at least) with simple style sheets.

HTH

As I've said before here, I'm taking a class in learning how to use
RoboHelp, as part of the technical writing certificate I'm working on.

One of the weak points of the program (as far as I'm concerned) is there
is no design and best practices class. I have no idea what type fonts and
sizes work best for print, pdf, or on-line. I know not to over-use red, and
that online topics should be shorter and pithier than in paper documents,
but other than that, I have no idea what I'm doing.

I found a book on Designing and Writing Online Documentation by Bill
Horton, but it was last updated in 1994. Surely there is something more
recent, with more modern and current best practices?

Can anyone suggest a couple of books that might help me?

thanks!

-becca


-------------------------------------
"Grant us, in our direst need, the smallest gifts: the nail of the
horseshoe, the pin of the axle, the feather at the pivot point, the pebble
at the mountain's peak, the kiss in despair, the one right word. In
darkness, understanding."


Paladin of Souls (HB page 35), Lois McMaster Bujold

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Create and publish documentation through multiple channels with
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Try Doc-To-Help, now with MS SharePoint integration, free for 30-days.

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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Create and publish documentation through multiple channels with
Doc-To-Help. Choose your authoring formats and get any output you may
need.

Try Doc-To-Help, now with MS SharePoint integration, free for 30-days.

http://bit.ly/doc-to-help

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and info.

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public email archives @ http://techwr-l.com/archives

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Create and publish documentation through multiple channels with Doc-To-Help. Choose your authoring formats and get any output you may need.

Try Doc-To-Help, now with MS SharePoint integration, free for 30-days.

http://bit.ly/doc-to-help

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

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References:
Designing online help - book suggestions?: From: Becca
Re: Designing online help - book suggestions?: From: Edwin Skau

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