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>So we should put the user first -- except if we feel like making
>the manual 8.5x11" because "it's easy on the writer"?
That's right. 8.5x11" is a perfectly normal page size. I have
hundreds of publications in this size (more or less) on
my shelves, including the Encyclopaedia Britannica and virtually
all of the magazines I subscribe to. So there's no use pretending
that 8.5x11" pages are somehow weird and forbidding to the reader.
It's a normal size for everything from scientific papers to
coloring books. No doubt every reader has run into this page
size often enough to have become used to it.
I have found that smaller page sizes tend to be a nuisance. I
generally have difficulty bludgeoning my DTP software and laser
printer into printing correctly on arbitrary-sized paper, which
interferes with my ability to do small preproduction press runs
in-house. I have the same difficulty with copiers. This makes
the early, pre-release editions of the documents difficult to
produce, especially as they are generally under tight security,
and can't be sent out to a commercial printer, so we're stuck
with in-house printing.
Production difficulties cause a time drain when you can least afford
it. The office equipment works best with 8.5x11" pages, and the DTP
software works best with 8.5x11" pages. If there's no strong
reason to use a different page size, I tend to use 8.5x11" pages,
As it turns out, many of the manuals I turn out have source-code
examples or complex illustrations that make a small page size
Robert Plamondon, High-Tech Technical Writing, Inc.
36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett * Oregon * 97326
robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (541) 453-5841 * Fax: (541) 453-4139 http://www.pioneer.net/~robertp