TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: Numbers or Letters when labeling a graphic? From:sharipunyon -at- gmail -dot- com To:Lin Sims <ljsims -dot- ml -at- gmail -dot- com> Date:Mon, 23 Apr 2018 17:45:44 -0400
Short answer: you are right.
Long answer: relettering all the graphics for translations is costly and time consuming. You are also now dealing with different alphabets, including Asian, Cyrillic, Arabic, etc. in your graphic program. Ugly and expensive.
At my last job, we only used numbers in the graphic, and created a callout table below, primarily because of translation.
As to the placement of the callouts, Iâm not a graphic person, but it seems like you are separating the reference from the referee, and possibly adding a lot of lines everywhere.
> On Apr 23, 2018, at 4:18 PM, Lin Sims <ljsims -dot- ml -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:
> My coworker and I are having a minor disagreement over whether we should
> use numbers or letters when labeling a graphic. Said graphic could be
> elements of a UI or parts of a piece of hardware or a map showing locations
> of objects.
> He says use letters, because that way readers won't think the labels are
> correlated to procedure steps (if there are any).
> I say use numbers because you don't have to worry about translations to
> other languages if /when that happens, and also you don't have to worry
> about going over 26 labels in a diagram.
> He's mostly working on the hardware products, which don't normally have
> that many labels. Right now I'm working on software user interfaces, and
> they have a lot of items that need explaining (oddly, the interface is
> fairly clean and doesn't look crowded, but they managed to fit in a LOT of
> information and controls).
> I even showed him my "Illustrating Computer Documentation" book that has
> numbers, and he's not only disagreeing with the numbers, he says all the
> labels have to be aligned at the top and bottom with connecting lines,
> because putting the labels inside the graphic is "messy".
> I, of course, have labels all OVER the place (left to right, top to bottom,
> as close to what's being labeled as I can manage without obscuring
> I plan to drag out my Tufte books to see if this is addressed at all (doubt
> it, but will look), but are there any good resources out there for best
> There is no house style manual; that's one of the things we plan to address
> Lin Sims
> Visit TechWhirl for the latest on content technology, content strategy and content development | http://techwhirl.com
> You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as sharipunyon -at- gmail -dot- com -dot-
> To unsubscribe send a blank email to
> techwr-l-leave -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit
>http://www.techwhirl.com/email-discussion-groups/ for more resources and info.
> Looking for articles on Technical Communications? Head over to our online magazine at http://techwhirl.com
> Looking for the archived Techwr-l email discussions? Search our public email archives @ http://techwr-l.com/archives
Visit TechWhirl for the latest on content technology, content strategy and content development | http://techwhirl.com