Re: Times Roman 'N' Helvetica (formerly SGML, etc.)

Subject: Re: Times Roman 'N' Helvetica (formerly SGML, etc.)
From: CARTER HANSEN <chansen -at- CWIS -dot- UNOMAHA -dot- EDU>
Date: Thu, 4 Nov 1993 19:47:21 GMT

Bonni_Graham_at_Enfin-SD -at- relay -dot- proteon -dot- com writes:
> They (TR 'N' H, the Terrible Twins) _are_ clear faces (see below), but
> they are also used by everybody and her dog. We ended up using
> Palatino (primarily for its lovely italic and lettershapes) and Avant
> Gard. I'd rather have used Optima, but I lost on that one. Ah,
> well...

> Seriously, though, font choice is something to think about carefully.
> TR & H give a very solid traditional look -- not something that's very
> appropriate for a cutting-edge product, even if only thee and me can
> tell. There's a je ne sais quoi about using faces -- people get an
> impression of something without even really knowing WHY.

> For example, I used Century Schoolbook and Helvetica in a recent
> project that was aimed at teachers. What are a lot of text books
> printed in? Century Schoolbook. They immediately felt at home, even
> if they didn't know why. I've got the feedback to prove this.

> For another example, US textbooks are usually printed in a serif face,
> therefore, serif faces are more "truthful" (as well as more
> recognizable) to a US audience. However, European text books are
> usually printed in san serif, therefore... (I read this somewhere in
> an article about communicating in international markets, really)

> This is a long answer to your question, but I really believe that
> typeface choice is highly underrated as a quality issue. Anyone else
> wanna comment?

> Bonni Graham |
> Technical Writer | em dash, n. A hyphen with
> Easel Corporation, ENFIN Technology Lab | delusions of grandeur.
> Bonni_Graham_at_Enfin-SD -at- relay -dot- proteon -dot- com | --Ezra Shapiro
> President, San Diego STC |

> From: K Angelucci <tscom001 -at- DUNX1 -dot- OCS -dot- DREXEL -dot- EDU>

> Just curious, why didn't you use Times Roman or Helvetica in your
> last manual? I always thaought that they were very clear fonts. What did
> you use?

On this subject, I wholeheartedly agree with you Bonni! Few technical
writers these days just write the material for a new manual. Many must
make some difficult design choices. I hope that those who make these
decisions do so with some rational foundation. A manual designer ought
to know a good deal about typography, as well as psychology, graphic design,
illustration, cognition, and perhaps even color/prepress.

BTW, I also think Optima is a lovely typeface, but I use it in newsletters,
not technical manuals. The manuals I write are also for technologically
advanced software, and Optima seems just a bit frilly for that context.
Personally, I settled on Garamond & Futura for the manuals. Regardless, I
appreciate your concern for typography.

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