Re: TECHWR-L Digest - 21 Jun 1993 to 22 Jun 1993

Subject: Re: TECHWR-L Digest - 21 Jun 1993 to 22 Jun 1993
From: "Focus on 3 things: Quality, Quality, Quality" <raven -at- USABLE -dot- ENET -dot- DEC -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1993 07:59:25 EDT

Len Olszewski asked if there were any guidelines for use of
text in interfaces; Paul Beck's reply to see the OSF/Motif Style guide
published by Prentice-Hall and the Sun book was a good start. (Current
version of the OSF/Motif style guide is V. 1.2; I think Paul's 3 in his
message was a typo) Here are more suggestions:

For quick reading: Mary Elizabeth Raven, "How do rules of good
writing apply to short sectins on online text? Proceedings of the
1988 Internaltinoal Technical Communication conference, Society for
Technical Communication, Washington, DC. (1988) pp. MPD97 to MPD100

For not-so-quick reading:
The DECwindows Companion to the OSF/Motif Style Guide part
number AA-PGZ9A-TE available from 1-800-Digital (but I don't know how
much it costs). It has an appendix on guidelines for punctuating and
capitalizing "screen objects" and it addresses text in menus in a
chapter on menu design, and text in dialog boxes in a chapter on
designing dialog boxes.

The Windows Interface: An Application Design Guide (For
Microsoft Windows UI's) Microsoft Press ISBN 1-55615-384-8 $24.95 in
the US.

"System Application Architecutre Common User Access: guide to
User Interface Design" (SC34-4289) and the "System Application
Architecture Common User Access: Advanced Interface Design Reference
(SC34-4290) available from IBM (but exactly how you would go about
ordering them from IBM, I do not know). Also of note; the OSf and IBM
(with the help of an OSf special Interest Group) are in the process of
merging the OSf/MOtif Style GUide and the Common User Acceses (CUA)
documents. That merged book will the the OSF/Motif Style Guide V2.0
and I'm not sure when it will be available. In addition, sections of
the "DECWindows COmpanion to the OSF/MOtif style guide" will be in the
OSF/Motif Style Guide v2.0 (geez, can you tell there's an effort to
put all the GUI design guidelines in one spot?)

LES, if you're looking for guidelines that do NOT apply to
Graphical User Interfaces, I can't think of any at the moment.
Also, please note that not all the guidelines in the style books above
are necessarily what's best for the user--essentially many are simply
standards for consistency, made with the assumption that consistency
is better than chaos in the GUI world.

Last, since Paul Beck mentioned usability tessting, Minette
Beabes and I recount our saga of persuading the OSf to change its
standard Help menu (That's a case when we discovered that some
consistency was kookoo). You can find that paper in: Mary Elizabeth
Raven and Minette A. Beabes, "Redesigning a Help Menu Based on
Usaility Testing" Proceedings of the 1992 Society for Technical
Communication Annual Conference, STC (1992) 341-344. (Note that the
STC changed the name of the conference from the ITCC to the STC annual

Have fun!
Mary Beth Raven
Digital Equipment Corporation
Nashua, NH
Raven -at- usable -dot- enet -dot- dec -dot- com

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