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Subject:RE: Numbers or Letters when labeling a graphic? From:"David Artman" <david -at- davidartman -dot- com> To:"Lin Sims" <ljsims -dot- ml -at- gmail -dot- com>, "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com> Date:Tue, 05 Jun 2018 12:39:48 -0700
I am aligned with your corworker: letters for callouts, numbers
(possibly with motion arrows) for step-reference image overlays.
The "max 26" objection is moot: you can go to double-letter callouts
after "Z" ("AA", "AB", "AC", etc). You can even use the initial letter
as a logical grouping and *start* with double-letter callouts.
If you go past 702 item callouts in one graphic, you've got an
information architecture issue! ;-)
Even if you want to only use "AA", "BB", "CC", etc, after "A", "B",
"C", etc, that still allows 52 callouts.
Then, of course, a callout-definition table below/beside the image for
translation and layout control.
As for HOW you manage drawing callouts: totally tool-specific. I tend
to favor 'baking' them into the graphic, and ensuring consistent
scaling (resize image BEFORE adding callout objects). But I could see
using FM to make the callouts in the layout instead; just a matter or
workflow preference. (Heck, one could go wild with imagemap, too, in
As for WHERE you place them: again, that can be tool-constrained. For
instance, if you left-float any of your callouts with lines, then ALL
images should have such floats, else their apparent left-alignment will
seem to 'stagger' side to side from image to image. Keeping callouts
inside thee main bounding frame of the image/illustration is probably
the easiest to manage, year by year.
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Numbers or Letters when labeling a graphic?
From: Lin Sims <ljsims -dot- ml -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Mon, April 23, 2018 4:18 pm
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
My coworker and I are having a minor disagreement over whether we
use numbers or letters when labeling a graphic. Said graphic could be
elements of a UI or parts of a piece of hardware or a map showing
He says use letters, because that way readers won't think the labels
correlated to procedure steps (if there are any).
I say use numbers because you don't have to worry about translations to
other languages if /when that happens, and also you don't have to worry
about going over 26 labels in a diagram.
He's mostly working on the hardware products, which don't normally have
that many labels. Right now I'm working on software user interfaces,
they have a lot of items that need explaining (oddly, the interface is
fairly clean and doesn't look crowded, but they managed to fit in a LOT
information and controls).
I even showed him my "Illustrating Computer Documentation" book that
numbers, and he's not only disagreeing with the numbers, he says all
labels have to be aligned at the top and bottom with connecting lines,
because putting the labels inside the graphic is "messy".
I, of course, have labels all OVER the place (left to right, top to
as close to what's being labeled as I can manage without obscuring
I plan to drag out my Tufte books to see if this is addressed at all
it, but will look), but are there any good resources out there for best
There is no house style manual; that's one of the things we plan to
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