Doc Design Research Results (Long)

Subject: Doc Design Research Results (Long)
From: Dan Lupo <Dan_Lupo -at- CCMAIL -dot- US -dot- DELL -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 26 Mar 1996 14:09:22 CST

Many thanks to all those who provided citations and suggestions
relating to document design research. Here is what I received, in no
particular order and with some overlap (but I wanted to recognize
everyone who was thoughtful enough to email me).

--Dan Lupo

Karen Shriver did a piece on the history of doc design several years
ago in Technical Communition (the STC journal). You might look at the
first chapter of my diss, and the bib. I talk quite a bit about doc
design up to 1990. Also, look at Ginny Redish's stuff. Particularly
the article in Odell and Goswami's Writing in Nonacademic Settings.
Hope this helps.

--Bob Johnson

Benson, Philippa J. "Writing Visually: Design Considerations in
Technical Publications." *Technical Communication* 32 (1985): 35-39.

Keyes, Elizabeth. "Typography, Color, and Information Structure."
*Technical Communication* 40.4 (1993): 638-54.

Schriver, Karen. "Document Design from 1980 to 1989: The Challenges
That Remain." *Technical Communication* 36 (1989): 316-331.

*Technical Communication* is the journal for the Society of Technical
Communication. It is an excellent--and current--resource.

Also check *IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication*--within
the past 2-3 years there's been articles on the use of color in
document design (Wm. Horton and others...)

Betsy Smith
Auburn University
smitheo -at- mail -dot- auburn -dot- edu

Karen Schriver has a bibliographic essay, entitled something like
"Document Design, 1980-90: A Review of the Research". It was published
in the STC publication, Technical Communication, November 1989.

Alexander (Sandy) Friedlander
Associate Professor
Director, Programs in Technical and Science Communication
Drexel University
Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA

The stuff up through 93 is in the last edition of my textbook's
chapter on Designing documents (Business and Administrative
Communicaiton, Irwin, 3/e--see the notes). I'll be updating the last
three years of research this summer when I start revising.

Kitty Locker

There is much that has been done in the 20th century that is relevant
to your questions about document design, some of it as early as 1908
when Huey said that understanding what people do as they read would
require detailing some of the ~most intricate workings of the human
mind." Document design is all the things you mention and more. There
are many sources that tell us about the nature of document design and
that provide empirical support for the design moves you mention (as
well as other ways that document designers can make contact with
readers~ thoughts, feelings, and motivations as they engage with prose
and graphics). But as you discovered, the research is fragmented,
scattered here and there, and it has not been integrated from the
perspective of how prose and graphics work together. I review some of
the relevant research in a ten year period between 1980 and 1989 in
the article mentioned by other kind folks on this list; that review
picks up where the AIR collection (by Felker et al., 1980, also
mentioned earlier) left off. I have a book that is coming out around
November of this year with John Wiley & Sons, Dynamics in Document
Design: Creating Texts for Readers. There is a rumor that it came out
in 1995, but since I have an inside source, I can tell you from the
horse~s mouth that it is coming :)

Karen Schriver

You might get some good information from the folks on the Information
Design listservs. I don't have all the subscription information, but
there are several listservs in the Info-D 'family'. The ones I have
handy are:

InfoDesign-Cafe subscription instructions:
Send mail to <majordomo -at- fwi -dot- uva -dot- nl>, saying "(un)subscribe


InfoGraphics instructions:
(un)subscribe majordomo -at- fwi -dot- uva -dot- nl (un)subscribe InfoGraphics
contact moderator yuri -at- fwi -dot- uva -dot- nl <questions and comments>
submit a message InfoGraphics -at- fwi -dot- uva -dot- nl <your message to the list>

Hope this helps.
Kat Nagel MasterWork Consulting Services, Rochester, NY

There is an article in the April, 1994 issue of Ergonomics in Design
about this. It is entitled "Using Text Labels to Aid Selective
Reading" and was authored by Charles T. Gilreath.

In case you can't get your hands on that, below are a couple of
references from that article. Also, one of the sharpest people I know
in terms of understanding of documentation design/typography issues is
Joel Angiolillo at AT&T. You might want to send your message to him

jsab -at- arch4 -dot- att -dot- com

Some references from the EID article:

Gilreath, C. T. (1993). Graphic cueing of text: The typographic and
diagraphic dimensions. Visible Language, 27, 336-361.

Hartley, J. (1985). Designing instructional text (2nd ed.). London:
Kogan Page.

Spencer, H., Reynolds, L., and Coe, B. (1975). Spatial and
typorgraphic coding with bibliographical entries. Programmed Learning
and Educational Technology, 12(2), 95-101.

White, J. V. (1988). Graphic design for the electronic age. New York:

Finally, I would suggest you look at Patricia Wright's work. She has
a chapter entitled "Issues of Content and Presentation in Document
Design," in the Handbook of Human-Computer Interaction, edited by
Martin Helander (Amsterdam: North-Holland, 1990). It has about six
pages of references - a few of which I've listed below.

Felker, D., Pickering, F., Charrow, V. R., Holland, . M., and Fedish,
J. C. (1981). Guidelines for Document Designers. Washington, DC:
American Institutes for Research.

Hartley, J., and Trueman, M. (1985). A research strategy for text
designers: The role of headings. Insturctional Science, 14, 99-155.

Waller, R. H. W. (1982). Text as diagram: Using typography to improve
access and understanding. In D H. Jonassen (Ed.), The Technology of
Text, 1 (Chapter 7, pp. 137-166). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational
Technology Publications.

Wright, P. (1980). Usability: The criterion for designing written
information. In P. A. Kolers, M. E. Wrolstad, and H. Bouma (Eds.),
Processing of Visual Language, 2 (Chapter 13, pp. 183-206). New York:

Daryle Gardner-Bonneau
bonneau -at- kcms -dot- msu -dot- edu

Dan, look at Clay Felker's _Guidelines for Document Designers_ from
the Document Design Center of the American Institutes for Research.
See also any articles by Janice Redish, who is associated with the
Center. I think you'll be delighted.

-Phil Hey
Briar Cliff College

Dan, If you look at my article from 1985 STC ( Benson, P. (1985).
Writing visually: Design considerations in technical publications. STC
Technical Communication, 33), you'll find some good basic references.

P. Benson

Check out Stephen Doheny-Farina, Document Design: What We Have Learned
From Research.

Also, there is extensive literature in the area of discourse and text
analysis that is applicable to document design. Check out Robert De-
Beaugrande's work (I think the title is Text Processing, or something
with Text in the title, a dense but helpful book). Also, a book by
Kintch and Dressler, forget the title, but it's something on text
grammar or discourse analysis; it's an excellent introductory title to
principles of cognitive text processing. Finally, there are articles
by Walter Kintch, whose work is very applicable to TC document design,
but these are mostly in psychology journals. William van de Kopple
has gathered some of this work in a textbook; again, I don't have the
title handy, but you'll recognize it if you look under his name in a
catalog. The work of M.A.K. Halliday also comes to mind, especially
older stuff like Halliday and Hasan, Cohesion in English.

Cezar Ornatowski
San Diego State University

Karen Schriver's literature review, "Document Design from 1980 to
1989: Challenges That Remain," offers 195 citations as well as a
comprehensive overview of design issues.
Technical Communication, Fourth Q 1989, 316-331.

Carolyn Rude
ditcr -at- ttacs -dot- ttu -dot- edu
Department of English, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409-3091
phone 806-742-2517; fax 806-742-0989
English Department WWW Home Page:

There is actually a good bit of information available -- though that's
not always clear to practitioners (or some academics for
that matter). In addition to the sources already mentioned, I highly
suggest a 1989 volume edited by Karen Shriver in STC's _Technical
Communication_ (vol 36, no 4) which contains a lengthy bibliography.

Karen Shriver also has a 1995 book from Wiley & Sons dealing with
document design. If you're interested in the theoretical foundations
(i.e., perceptual foundations) of document design, see my 1995 book,
_Coherence, Continuity & Cohesion_ from Lawrence Erlbaum and Assoc.

Kim Sydow Campbell, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Linguistics and Communication
Air Force Institute of Technology
kcampbel -at- afit -dot- af -dot- mil

How about the excellent bibliographic essay by Benton & Benton in the
_Bibliographic Essays_ volume edited by Charles Sides. It is a first
rate discussion of multiple issues in visuals and tech comm,
including very fine summaries of some important perceptual work. Not
directly "doc design" but very useful supplementation.

Margaret Hundleby
Michigan Tech

Phillipa Benson (TC, 1989, and 1985) has two articles that are very
helpful. Also Tufte's two books, Envisioning Information and The
Visual Display of Graphic Information, are often cited.

Wendy Warren

For a good list of books and articles, see CHAPTER NOTES for Chapter 9
in Reporting Technical Information, (Houp and Pearsall) 8th edition.
That chapter and its notes were compiled by Ginny Redish who really
knows the field.

Tom Pearsall

One possible source for information on chunking and layout would be
the material published about Information Mapping. Although you'll be
using the company's material (which is presumably biased towards
saying Info Mapping is a great system), but then you can fall back on
the numbers of companies and docs that use that format. In a sense,
there's some security in the numbers.

Another possibility would be tech comm textbooks on graphics and
design. I don't recall the title of the book we used in our class (it
was a dozen years ago), but the info should be available by checking
in with schools that offer tech comm programs.

Rick Lippincott
Boston Technology
Wakefield, MA
rjl -at- bostech -dot- com
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