English
6715

Technical Writing

Fall
2017

 

Design readings

 

Design of documents

Comments

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Readings

Design of documents

Voice

 

Page design

Comments

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Readings

Page design

Voice

 

Design should be experienced

Comments

If the readers notice your design, then you have a design problem.

Readings

Great design should be experienced, not seen

Voice

 

Basic design principles

Comments

Readings

Basic design properties

Voice

 

Headings and lists

Comments

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Readings

Headings

Lists

Voice

 

10 foot view

Comments

View your designs from 10 feet away, maybe more if you good eyes. The purpose is look at the overall design without seeing the text as words. You can get the same effect on the monitor by looking at the page displayed at about 20%, but the image perceptually looks very small. Some things to consider:

  • The text has turned to gray blocks. Does the page look dense? Is there too much white space?
  • Are the sections visually distinct and set apart? White space around the headings accomplish this.
  • How inviting does the overall page appear? Is it jumbled or confusing?
  • Do you want to read it or is the overall appearance a turn-off?
  • Is anything dominating the page? Should it be dominating the page?
  • Do you want to read a page that looks like this?

Which of these two designs do you want to read?

In the past, I've read some interesting comments, such as: "At 10 feet, I couldn't read it. So I moved to 7 feet." NO! If you can read it, move back. Reading the headings are ok, but the text blocks need to blur into gray.

 

Readings
Voice

 

White space

Comments

White space is all of the blank space on a page.

It's a major element for influencing how people perceive your design and how it looks with a 10 foot view.

Readings

The Science of White Space in Design

Why white space matters

Voice

 

Design lecture notes

Comments

From many past assignments, it's clear that too many students either skip these readings or skim them. A high percentage of the formatting errors I mark in the assignments are stuff that are covered here. Just becasue you have always formatted a document in a certain way does not mean it is a good way.

Readings

Fonts

Heading structure

Paragraph formatting

Margins

Lists

Voice

 

How people view pages

Comments

Readings

Viewing pages

Voice

 

Justification

Comments

Readings

Text justification

Ragged Right or Full Justification

Voice

 

Cueing and text indenting

Comments

The reader assigns the greatest importance to the left-most portion of any visual display. To exploit this tendency, the text designer structures information through a series of nested units indented from the left hand margin. The area in proximity to the left-most margin is reserved for the most important information or high-level information. Headlines, important warnings, and graphics may be assigned a position of visual importance through isolation in the left-most portion of the page. As subsequent sections are indented from the left-most margin, they become, by reason of their placement, less important or lower in the information hierarchy. The optimal unit of measure used to designate the indent as well as the number of indents is a balance struck between the complexity of the information, the desire to maintain optimum line measures, the width of a page, and desire to achieve a horizontal separation easily distinguished by the eye.
---Gribbons, W.  Organization by Design   p. 71.

Readings
Voice

 

Hyphens, En-dashes and Em-dashes

Comments

You need to know the difference between a Hyphen (the short one) an En-dash (the slightly longer one) and an Em-dash (the longer one), and when to use each one.

And I bet you never knew that when you created a citation for a paper and you typed the page numbers as 23-32 that you did it wrong. This example uses a hyphen, but it should be an en-dash. 23–32.

Don't expect a non-technical writer to care. You'll have to fix it during the page design and layout. Of course, the copyeditor should have marked it.

Readings

Using dashes

Practical typography

Voice

 

Line length

Comments

People do prefer medium length lines (Bernard, Fernandez, & Hull, 2002). This is comparable with print research showing lines should be about 50–60 characters long,

The line of text should be about two alphabets (52 characters) long for best reading. Research into the relative legibility of different line lengths in print has led to recommendations that line lengths should not exceed about 70 characters per line.

Most articles tend to claim longer or shorter lines will slow down reading speed. For longer lines, the eye often gets lost during the return to the next line. If the lines are too short, readers cannot make use of much information in each fixation, and there is significant time lost as the eye is constantly having to return to the next line (Rayner & Pollatsek,1989).

Line length has also been found to affect reading rates online. Dyson and Haselgrove (2001) found the length for best compromise between reading speed and comprehension was 55 characters, comparable to that for print. Longer line lengths do seem to be read faster (Dyson & Kipping, 1998; Shaikh, 2005). Shaikh found lines with 95 characters read the fastest, but the readers preferred shorter lines. On the other hand, 95 characters was the longest line, but reading on paper could easily have a longer line. A portrait-formatted page with .5 inch margins contains 90–95 characters; pages formatted landscape would greatly exceed that length and cause reading trouble.

Readings

 

Voice

 

 

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