thoughts on color

Subject: thoughts on color
From: Gil Yaker <gyaker -at- CSC -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 11:45:54 -0500

Hey all
I'm curious of everyone's thoughts on the following:

What do you think about the use of color in informational documents?

Now I know that color can give you another dimension of conveying
information if used properly, but that's not what I'm curious about. It
seems that these days many large offices have a color laser printer or
high-quality inkjet printer. So people feel compelled sometimes to throw
color into their documents with seemingly little discretion. Maybe I'm just
hyper-sensitive, but most of the time these documents are quite irksome.
Further, plain old black and white (with shading) would usually seem to do
the job perfectly all the time.

By the list's standards, I'm not senior by any means. To this point in my
career, I've never once needed color in my documents. I can think of some
instances in which color would be appropriate, leaning towards scientific
drawings or math or anything else when the system involved gets large in
scope. But for the user's manuals which I've created, black ink (toner) on
white paper serves me fine.

I have a document next to me that was distributed to inform our staff of
new HR policies. Most of the time, the writer used color to make a point
stand out. But it seems that a larger font would have been more effective.
Plus green or blue ink does not look that much different next to black ink
at 12 point on white paper.

Other people, who read the same color documents, express that they like the
color. I attribute this to the attention-grabbing value of high-quality
color. So how important is that? Just because someone is drawn to a color
document, even if the information is conveyed just as effectively as black
and white, should we use color when it's not necessary?

Gil Yaker

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