Using screenshots effectively

Subject: Using screenshots effectively
From: "Geoff Hart (by way of \"Eric J. Ray\" <ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com>)" <ght -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Wed, 29 Jul 1998 06:26:21 -0600

Joyce Nickel reported having problems with a 5-step procedure
becoming a 3-page procedure because she included screenshots. Joyce,
if the screenshots really are essential for comprehension, you may
not be able to get around this at all; can any of them be deleted? If
not, sometimes you simply have to "take as much space as is required,
but no more". Without more context, I'm guessing that one of a few
things is happening: either you're trying to fit too much info. into
a single step, you're producing the shots too close to full size, or
else you're including far too much information (e.g., the entire area
surrounding a dialog box, not just the dialog box). It's also
possible that you're describing too much of the diagram in the text
instead of letting the picture speak for itself (e.g., "the XXX field
at the top left of the dialog box, immediately below the WWW field
and to the right of the AAA field").

There are several likely solutions. First, reduce the size of the
graphics as much as possible; by no means do they have to be 100%.
You should be able to fit a minimum of three reduced graphics on
a page and still leave plenty of room for text. Second, crop down the
graphics to show only what's essential. Third, see if you can combine
two or more screenshots into a single larger screenshot, then use
arrows to connect each step in the procedure to the appropriate part
of the diagram; you may have to juggle the layout a bit so that the
instructions still fall in a logical sequence (e.g., top to bottom,
clockwise from the top left, etc.). That should get you much closer
to your final goal.
--Geoff Hart @8^{)}
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"You keep using that word... I do not think it means what you think it
means."--Inigo Montoya

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