Re: document design: I don't know what I don't know

Subject: Re: document design: I don't know what I don't know
From: Bill Swallow <techcommdood -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: Becca <becca -at- di -dot- org>
Date: Wed, 29 Aug 2012 09:19:31 -0400

Hi Becca,

Well, I *would* cover type faces, particularly as they relate to
readability for the target purpose in the target medium. After all, a
college textbook needs a very different font than a warning in a heavy
machinery operation manual. I'd also focus heavily on intended use and
usability of the target deliverable, as that heavily influences the design.

I'd also look at approaches; when word might be appropriate and when
FrameMaker+DITA might be appropriate, for example. Each source medium has
its own design advantages and disadvantages.

Use of graphics and their placement among the text is also important, as is
text layout in general (how many columns, what point size, organization,
white space, tables...). Also, consider content types and how they should
flow within the text; what topics should look like, what conventions
(bullets, numbers, indents, outdents, etc.) should be used and when they're
best used.

Also consider color use, appropriateness of images, appropriateness of
writing style, and approach to content development.

All of the above impact localization of your deliverables. Did you allow
enough room for expansion? Are the images easy to localize (or do they need
it)? Are the colors, imagery and style/tone appropriate for the target
localized audience (or will they need to be altered)?

Quite a lot to consider!

On Tue, Aug 28, 2012 at 8:34 PM, Becca <becca_price -at- yahoo -dot- com> wrote:

> I am in a technical communication certificate program at our local
> community college. I'm trying to put together a proposal for an independent
> study class on document design from a writer's viewpoint. (My documents are
> serviceable, but not particularly inspired). The school has several courses
> that relate to what I want to learn: for example, there's a typography
> class and a document design class, but they're all part of the Graphics
> Design curriculum, and (from the few courses I've taken in that curriculum)
> very design-focused, not document-focused. I'm not a graphics designer, and
> not interested in the design of type faces, for example, but I know I need
> to know more about specing type faces beyond Arial and Times New Roman. the
> trouble is, I don't know what I don't know - I'm not sure where to begin
> asking the questions, much less finding answers.
> So - if you were designing a 3-credit course in designing technical
> documentation, what sorts of topics would you include?
> Thanks!
> -becca

Bill Swallow
Content Solutions Manager
GlobalScript, a division of LinguaLinx

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