Technical Editing & Production



Displaying information with graphics


Kimball & Hawkins -- Chap 7. Graphics

Anderson. Chap 12. Creating reader-centered graphic

The Inhumanity of Technical Illustrations

UIEtips Deciding When Graphics Will Help (and When They Don't)

Universal principles of design


Johnson-Sheehan. Chap 9. Creating and using graphics

Realism in UI Design

Using simple diagrams

Talking to texts and sketches-- The function of written and graphic mediation in engineering design

Creating long information flows (Single panel. But what to do when you have complex interactions to show.)

Critical thinking problem

Many textbooks) encourages the use of graphics "whenever" they would normally be necessary," but does not really explain when that is. Based on what we've read so far, can the "need for graphics" be clearly defined? How do you think that "need" should be determined? Remember that most graphics require hiring an artist. They require actual money rather than just more of your (the writer's) time.

Discuss how you determine the use of a graphic, why you do not use another? How do you feel about using the same image on each web page as discussed on Spool’s tips for deciding which graphic to use? How do you draw your user in with graphics and convey your message without distracting with graphics?



Digital versus analog presentation.

Here's a scan of my dog's CBC from the vet. Consider how it contains both a digital and analog display of most of the information. What are the advantages of either? What would drive your choices in using digital or analog displays on a webpage? What about information which automatically updates at some time interval? How does it relate to the audience use of the information? (vet versus pet owner) For that matter, why do cars have analog speedometers and not digital? A few years ago, some did have digital, but they seem to have gone away.

weak answer The digital display clearly outlines the information while the analog graphic give the number some sort of scale on which to gauge. A decision on whether or not to use an analog or digital display may come down to the user's prior knowledge. If the anticipated user already has a the prior knowledge to interpret the digital display quickly and understands what they are looking for than a digital display would make sense. However, if the audience is unfamiliar with the topic or information listed, an analog display may make the information more accessible to the user and easier to interpret.


page 345, exercise #3. Create 2 fundementally different designs. Post your graphics and lets see the different ways people visualize the problem. What type of invovative ways can you come up with to display it? How can this help a new student?


Dragga and Voss wrote in “Cruel Pies: The Inhumanity of Technical Illustrations,” “ethical visuals must be as humanistic as ethical words” citing examples of Minard’s diagram of Napoleon’s 1812–1813 invasion of Russia, casualties in various industries and infant deaths from stairs. The article then demonstrates different humanistic approaches, which trivialize the seriousness the subject in the graph. How would you add the human dimension to visuals, keeping them ethical and tied into the subject being discussed? Or have Dragga and Voss overstated the issue and are their attempts are adding humanity to the illustrations distracting from communicating information?

weak answer Graphics are used to give the user a visual image which supports information in the text. The additions to Minard's diagram were ridiculous, making the document look like a picture of a Risk board. Similarly the graphics depicting fire and workers with axes added noise to the graphic and did not help explain anything other than appealing rhetorically to the user. In my opinion adding humanity to the illustrations discussed in the article distracts from communicating information.

Points to ponder


Here's a redesign of a traffic light. The hour glass shapes lets you know now much longer until the light changes.




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