Paper size and PDF for online docs

Subject: Paper size and PDF for online docs
From: "M. Dannenberg" <midannen -at- SI -dot- BOSCH -dot- DE>
Date: Fri, 23 May 1997 10:50:04 +0200

Pete Kloppenburg wrote:

> So, here's the rub. We want to ship an international version of
> our software, but that requires some changes to the functionality
> of the software to meet export restrictions. No probs, I'll use
> conditional text in FrameMaker. But, European users will be
> printing on different paper sizes - not 8 1/2 by 11, but that crazy
> A4 paper (yeah, very North-American-centric of me, but I dare
> someone to haul me in front of a human rights tribunal for discriminating
> on the basis of paper size). A4 is about a quarter of an inch narrower, and
> about 3 quarters of an inch longer than North American letter-size.
> So what happens when you try to print an 8 1/2 by 11 PDF on A4
> (or whatever) paper? Anybody have experience with that?

Bummer. I've got the same problem the other way round, those crazy yanks
and their totally weird paper size are causing us no end of trouble. As
for single sourcing multi-language docs, I think you're a bit out of
luck here. The only way to make sure the doc can be printed on both
sides of the pond is to make the margins wide enough for the text to fit
on both paper sizes. That way you'll have a huge margin at the bottom in
Europe and huge one on the side in the US. Neither document is going to
look good.

If you can live with that, no problem, otherwise you'll either have to
have two versions, or reformat your document each time you want to
generate the European version. It's not just a question of changing the
margins, because changing those ususally messes up your page breaks as
well. Again this may not be a problem if you don't have any manual page
breaks. The upshot is, if you want it automatic, it won't look perfect,
if it has to perfect, it'll involve extra work.

As for PDF as a delivery medium, I think we should keep in mind that PDF
was designed for the electronic distribution of paper documents. That
means that any user, on any machine can take a document and create a
printout that looks just like the original. It works great. It is not,
however, a format for online documents. For that purpose HTML and
Winhelp are the most obvious candidates.


Mike Dannenberg
midannen -at- si -dot- bosch -dot- de

TECHWR-L (Technical Communication) List Information: To send a message
to 2500+ readers, e-mail to TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU -dot- Send commands
Search the archives at or search and
browse the archives at

Previous by Author: Estimating fixed-rate projects
Next by Author: Re: Documenting Floating windows - how would you do it?
Previous by Thread: Re: Ebonics & No. of TWs
Next by Thread: RoboHELP in a multi-user environment

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads