Are some readers confused by italics?

Subject: Are some readers confused by italics?
From: alucches -at- CCLINK -dot- AUS -dot- ETN -dot- COM
Date: Wed, 24 Apr 1996 08:45:10 CST


My tech pubs department has a long-standing rule that forbids the use
of italics. We instated this rule when someone from the training
department mentioned that our Asian customers have trouble deciphering
italics--it looks like cursive to them.

However, we are in the process of revising our style guide, and this
rule is now on the table for debate. Some writers wonder if this is
really a widespread problem--we have heard it from only one source.
And it's limiting to have to avoid italics, especially for formulas
and variables.

Has anyone else ever encountered readers who were confused by italics,
particularly readers whose native language does not use the Roman
alphabet? Or, is there any evidence that such readers have no problems
with italics? Any information would help, whether it's research or
anecdotal evidence.

In case you're wondering, we write software and hardware user manuals
and online help for semiconductor equipment. Our audience ranges from
people with high school education to engineers.


Andrew Lucchesi
alucches -at- aus -dot- etn -dot- com

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