RE: Question about warning and caution icons

Subject: RE: Question about warning and caution icons
From: "Diana Ost" <Diana -dot- Ost -at- msmcorp -dot- com>
To: "Dick Margulis" <margulisd -at- comcast -dot- net>, "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 16 Aug 2006 13:33:02 -0400

Dick said:
> At the suggestion of the company's EU distributor, they
> formatted warnings and cautions as follows:
> There is a run-in heading (either "Warning:" or "Caution:")
> in bold, followed by the text of the message. To the left of
> each such paragraph, rather than a standard triangle icon,
> there is a low-res, screened image of a typographic "fist"
> (or "index"), >>>that is, a hand with its forefinger extended to
> the right. The same fist is used for both warnings and
> cautions.<<<<

Marlana Coe said this about using icons in her book "Human Factors for
Technical Writers," "Writing for Other Cultures":

"The rule of thumb is to not use any body parts or animals in icons or

In some cultures, the fist with a pointing index finger is an insult,
sort of like our "one-finger salute" is in the US, if you get my drift.
In Japan, pointing is just rude in any context.

I don't use body parts at all for icons any more because of the possible
cultural context, and also, they don't display or print very well

Good luck with your project!

Diana Ost
Technical Writer/Reporting Analyst

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