Readabililty (Ace of Trumps)

Subject: Readabililty (Ace of Trumps)
From: "Glanbrok, Slayer of Bluntskulls" <conehead -at- OVERTHE -dot- NET>
Date: Mon, 15 Jul 1996 17:08:11 -0400

Various people (including yours truly) have thrown in their two bits (or four, or eight) on the spacing-after-periods issue.

There are worse and more widespread problems of readability in "our" docs. For example,

oops! Time for a pizza break!

<chomp, chomp, chomp> <burp>

OK, I'm back. To wit: My pet peeves are the enduring use of underlining (I know, I know; that's an amateur's failing) and too-wide columns.

I've long felt that wide columns decrease readability, and hence usability. (User guides can be rated for usability, can't they?) If you disagree, consider how quickly you can read a newspaper column of text. Proportional type (thank god for Steve Jobs and DRI) is now widely available, so how about it? Three inches? Three and a half? Four, no more!

As far as underlining ... This is another relic of the typewriter age. Italics followed roman type in the designer's portfolio centuries ago.

And please, let's not yield to Microsoft as the setter of typographical standards. The templates they include with Word have both italics and underlining in built-in heading styles. Those styles, and the fixed-space disability, show where their expertise ends.

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