Re: Graphics vs. Schematics

Subject: Re: Graphics vs. Schematics
From: Beth Agnew <BAgnew -at- INSYSTEMS -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 9 Feb 1998 14:10:02 -0500

There have been some good suggestions posted to the list about using
schematics to illustrate technical information. The point I want to
emphasize is that information presented graphically must be as tightly
controlled as information presented textually. Is there visual "clutter"
in your graphic or schematic? Does it show too much, or not enough? If
users are having trouble figuring out the procedures with the graphic
you're using, perhaps you need a custom graphic, not just a schematic.
As one poster suggested, line art that is created especially to show how
to solve a particular problem would be best.

For example, if we're talking about the attitude indicator on an
airplane, the graphic doesn't need to show the entire control panel. But
only showing the attitude indicator might not be sufficient, either. In
this case, you might want a control panel with gray lines so the user
can orient herself, an attitude indicator with black lines so she can
identify the particular instrument, and some in-between method to
indicate the key related instruments/controls, such as the altimeter
perhaps or the joystick.

Maybe a photograph would be fine, but you might also need a callout
graphic of the specific area under discussion. The point is to figure
out what needs to be communicated and how best to get the users to
understand it. Any of a variety of graphical methods could be used. As
technical communicators, we need to know how to convey information in a
multitude of media, not just text.


Beth Agnew
Senior Technical Writer, InSystems Technologies Inc.
65 Allstate Parkway, Suite 100 Tel: (905) 513-1400 ext. 280
Markham, Ontario, Canada L3R 9X1 Fax: (905) 513-1419
mailto:bagnew -at- insystems -dot- com Visit us at:

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