Re: A science of typography? Comments on Wheildon's _Type &

Subject: Re: A science of typography? Comments on Wheildon's _Type &
From: Stewart Walker <stewart -dot- walker -at- CPE -dot- COM -dot- AU>
Date: Thu, 8 Feb 1996 09:39:21 +1100

Hi all

I've followed Emily Skarzenski's and Stan Brown's comments about Wheildon's
work with interest. Something else to consider is the effect of reader
motivation on Wheildon's results and their applicability to technical writing.

Wheildon's study related to discretionary reading situations, as he was
mainly looking at newspapers and magazines (both editorial content and
advertising). His work has clear implications for the effective design of
information in these publications, where readers don't necessarily have any
particular motivation to read anything.

The motivation situation with manuals is different. The reader of a manual
is more motivated, as they have a particular reason for using the manual
(typically they are looking to learn something or find some information to
help them with a task). Putting on my devil's advocate hat, perhaps this
increased motivation and different purpose for using a publication has
*different* implications on how information in manuals should be designed.
It could even be that the increased motivation will make readers put up with
*worse* design and typography than discretionary readers.

Like Emily, I'd like to see some research into this. For starters, someone
could use Wheildon's methodology and examine the same factors, but using
manuals and their readers. After that, perhaps further research could be
done into additional design considerations for paper manuals and online

How about it anyone who is doing a Master's or PhD in Technical
Communication, or about to start one?


"I love being a writer . . . what I can't stand is the paperwork"
-Peter De Vries

Stewart Walker
Technical Writer
Computer Power Education, ITS R&D Project
L4, 493 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 3004
Ph: In Australia - 03 9243 2317 International - 613 9243 2317
Fax: In Australia - 03 9820 2010 International - 613 9820 2010
E-mail: stewart -dot- walker -at- cpe -dot- com -dot- au
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