Re: HTML and PDF files

Subject: Re: HTML and PDF files
From: Stephen Victor <svictor -at- HOUSTON -dot- GEOQUEST -dot- SLB -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 21 May 1997 15:54:52 -0500

Wayne J. Douglass wrote:
> My guess is that while *we* care about the proportion of white space to
> text, placement of graphics, choice of typeface, and the like, nobody else
> does. They just want the information. In the online world where you have

I suggest that while average users might not think they care about these
design elements, they really do. These elements can hinder or improve
users' ability to find the information they want and can create a
general (perhaps subconscious) sense that a document was "good" simply
because its layout facilitated access to the information (or "bad"
because it didn't). We don't care about good design elements because
users do; we care about design because good design is part of producing
good documents. If a document has too little white space or is a jumble
of typefaces, a user might not be able to point to those facts as
evidence of bad design, but he/she might still be unhappy with the

> limited control over many design elements in the first place (because users
> can choose their own default typefaces, window size, and the like), you are
> now obliged simply (simply!) to write clearly.

I hope I don't seem to contradict myself when I add that the ability to
create aesthetically pleasing documents (thanks to dtp systems) has
often been used to mask poorly written text. We might have forgotten our
simple obligation to write clearly because we could use technology to
make it look better. Wayne makes a good point here.

Stephen P. Victor Phone: (713) 513-2552
Technical Writer, Software Training Fax: (713) 513-2019
Schlumberger GeoQuest svictor -at- houston -dot- geoquest -dot- slb -dot- com
5599 San Felipe, Suite 1700
Houston, Texas 77056 USA

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