Re: Clipart in technical documentst: opinions needed

Subject: Re: Clipart in technical documentst: opinions needed
From: Susan Seifert <sseifert -at- FAIRFIELD -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 24 Feb 1996 09:46:13 -0700

At 1:13 AM 2/22/96, Kathleen Walsh wrote:
>I need some opinions about using clipart in technical documentation.
>I don't mean graphics like screen dumps, flow charts, or diagrams.
>I mean clipart (sometimes cartoon like). For example, the ones
>the writer put into the review I received:

>sherlock holmes silhouette next to the word Troubleshooting
>phone next to the title "Call Accounting"
>curtseying maid next to "Call Accounting with Maid Status"

Pardon me while I barf.

>I have 2 concerns:

>1. that the document will look too busy with a clipart next to every
>minor heading (as under PBX, I've got 7 sub-heads, only some of which
>currently have clipart).

That many icons will also make your document harder to understand. Usually
when I see an icon, I think it means something specific, such as:

New subject matter coming up
Instructional step here
Hot tip

With *different* icons, I tend to think each icon means something
different. So if you used Sherlock Holmes to signify new subject matter in
one place, I'd expect to find him in the next new-subject-matter-place.
So, one icon for 'Hot tip,' another for 'warning', etc. Otherwise it'll
confuse as well as annoy.

>2. that it will distract from the seriousness/technical nature of the
>document. We've put these graphics in newseletters and even marketing
>and sales documents, but this is a technical reference manual explaining
>how to install and use various interfaces with our Hotel package.

I agree completely with points 1 and 2 and would like to add:

3. It will make your company look amateurish and unprofessional.

You have my sympathy.



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