Re: Icons

Subject: Re: Icons
From: Stephen Forrest <forrest -at- SMTP -dot- SHIMADZU -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 1 May 1997 10:58:23 EST

Our manuals have a section right at the front and listed in the table
of contents that is called "Cautions." Conspicuously included in this
section are illustrations of and definitions for the symbols we will
use throughout the manual to call the user's attention to "don't
miss" items. We use the words NOTE, CAUTION, and WARNING
in boxes. NOTE is used for "important information for proper use of
the instrument." CAUTION is "information about items that can cause
damage and injury." WARNING is "information about items that can
cause serious damage to property and possibly fatal injury." (I've
edited these slightly for brevity and because they are not always
worded the same.)

Regarding icons, like most things, there are good and bad ones. Good
icons are ones where the meaning is almost unmistakeable. I
think the one you described, a trinagle within a triangle, is not a
good icon, because it doesn't mean anything.

> Are icons necessary or desirable? Using an icon forces the reader
> to remember what the icon means, or look somewhere in the doc to
> find out. We just use the words -- WARNING, CAUTION, NOTE -- with
> style changes to make them stand out from regular paragraphs.
> Of course, even with using words, the user has to remember the
> difference between WARNING and CAUTION or DANGER. However, this
> should be obvious from the statement immediately following the
> word/icon.
> A dummy page is a good idea. If I find myself using too many
> special statements on a single page, I evaluate and restructure the
> info so the impact of the important statements is not lost.
> Steve Brooks

> >At 03:30 PM 4/30/97 -0500, Rob wrote:
> >
> >>The manuals I have consulted define "warning, "caution" and "note"
> >>but do not provide examples of generally accepted icons for each.
> >>Can you tell me,
> >based on
> >>the following descriptions, if the icons we are creating are
> >>acceptable?
> >>
> >>WARNING: a triangle with an exclamation point inside it.
> >>CAUTION: a triangle inside another triangle.
> >>NOTE: the word "note" with a triangle pointing to the text to the
> >>right. (lots of triangles!)

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