Preferred manual sizes

Subject: Preferred manual sizes
From: geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA
Date: Fri, 29 Aug 1997 08:25:14 -0500

Peg Rickard wondered if there was any good research on
preferred sizes for manuals. Quick answer: Even if there
is, it's probably worthless to you because every situation
is different. Case in point: the "standard" manuals that
come with (say) MSWord are fine for desktop use, but
something that size won't fit in a coat pocket for use in
forestry field work. What environment will your users be in
when they pull out the manual? That's probably the most
important factor in deciding, and as always, it comes down
to knowing your audience.

That being said, there _are_ a few standard sizes that
users are familiar and comfortable with. Standard letter
size (including A4) works well in offices where people use
binders. For crowded desks, 7X9 (LxW) is pretty common,
though Apple's system documentation is short and wide
(5X7?) so it fits better between your monitor and keyboard.
Pocketbooks (e.g., your typical paperback novel) work well
for workers who need to stuff the manuals in a coat pocket.

--Geoff Hart @8^{)} geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Disclaimer: Speaking for myself, not FERIC.

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