Re: Optimal Page Sizes

Subject: Re: Optimal Page Sizes
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- EXPERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 23 Jan 1996 11:13:23 -0800

Jim Giordano wonders:

>We're trying to set a corporate standard for page size for software
>documentation. If I look on my book shelf I see user's guides in a wide
>variety of sizes. There seems to be no standard. We are considering A5
>(common in Europe; we are owned by the French), 8 1/2" x 7" which is a legal
>sheet folded, and the Microsoft size 7 1/2"x9". Any
>opinions you'd like to share. Also, are you aware of any usability research
>that talks about page size?

In my present and two former companies (so that's three), our pubs
have been 7" x 9". For economy, my two former companies used perfect
binding -- the current crew is going with wire-o so the book will lay
flat. The seven-by-nine size (with minor variations) seems to be
fairly common.

For the most part, standard paper sizes are irrelevant because the printers
use roll paper or large sheets and trim the books to their final size. You'll
need to consult your printer to verify this. However, if you have quick
printing to do in-house, the 8 1/2 x 7 (half-legal) size is a good choice.
Just make sure you can get your hands on some booklet-making software!

I don't know of any formal usability studies on book size, but there are
some generalized industry-wide myths:

* Big books take up too much room on the desktop.

* Loose-leaf binders tend to come apart too easily.

* Reference books are more convenient if they can be made to lay flat.

Hope this helps.


-Sue Gallagher
sgallagher -at- expersoft -dot- com


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