Re: Boldface

Subject: Re: Boldface
From: Mark Magennis <markmagennis -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 22 Oct 1999 01:28:29 -0700 (PDT)

--- Jim Morgan <jim -dot- morgan -at- ips-sendero -dot- com> wrote:
> We are currently discussing whether there is any advantage, in
> procedures, to bolding the names of control elements within the
> software (e.g., dialog box names or text box & button labels).

I bold them. In fact, whilst I use Times Roman for procedure text, I
use Arial bold for control elements. I think this causes them to
appear more like objects, separate from the text. Almost as if they
were pictures of the control elements themselves (if the control
element is just a labelled text box or menu command, they are as good
as pictures). This has the effect of making the important information
stand out, the information which is more difficult to hold in memory.
Take the following example.

On the @@*!^%*# menu, select @@*!^%*#.

Imagine you were to read an instruction like this, then turn away for
10 seconds and try and repeat it (to prepare to do the task). I'll
bet you would have no problem remembering that it was about selecting
an item from a menu, but you might forget which item or which menu.
Then, if you were to look back at it, the two @@*!^%*# words stand
out, so you would see the information you need.

You might also consider using pictures of elements, particularly if
you can't describe them adequately. For example:

On the toolbar, click the "Invert Selection" button.

The user might be left thinking "which one is the Invert Selection
button?". Maybe better would be "click the [] button", where [] is a
picture of the button. It depends on how easily understood the text
is and whether the pictures disrupt the visual flow.

Mark
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