Re: White space in manuals

Subject: Re: White space in manuals
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- AXIONET -dot- COM>
Date: Sun, 2 Feb 1997 13:09:14 -0500

At 17:28 1-31-97 -0800, joanne grey wrote in response to Jeanette Evans,
who wrote:
>> Can anyone provide me with specific references material to support that
>> idea that the use of white space in user documents can help users find
>> information to better complete tasks and recover from errors?

Any book on typography or layout should this fact.

However, I'd go even further. Not only is white space useful, but so is
more knowledge of typography and layout. Too many manuals seem poorly
laid out; besides a lack of white space, I'd add poor font selection, an
over-use of bold weights for headings, and poorly aligned graphics.
Probably, there's more.

Of course, often writers are too over-worked to think about layout. And
many, of course, never expected to do layout. Still, I think that even a
little attention to layout improves usability--even slight changes can
make a difference.

And, from the writer's viewpoint, layout adds an aesthetic interest to
the work. The design can never be more importnat than functinality, but
thinking about layout can make a writer's job more satisfying.

Bruce Byfield (bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com)
Technical Writer
Burnaby, BC, Canada
(604) 421-7189

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