Re: Exactly which illustrations...?

Subject: Re: Exactly which illustrations...?
From: Michael J Maloney <mmaloney -at- EPIC-ISTI -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 15 May 1996 11:37:09 -0400

>This is what we need to pin down. Michael, can you tell me which
>illustrations should be done by a pro, and which don't have to be?

>To paraphrase Bonni, we need to separate the fruit from the chaff. Or

Very good and appropriate question. The answer is a little more difficult.

A writer and an illustrator working together will "invent" image ideas and
content based on the perceived reaction and benefit of the reader. A writer
alone MAY restrict the graphic content based on his/her illustration
ability. Additionally, a writer (working alone) may construct his/her
WRITTEN content to accommodate the lack of illustrations, thus possibly
creating a more "wordy" document. So, to answer the question "When?" is a
moving target.

This is PART of the entire point I am trying to make. The question "When?"
can only be asked/answered when the production process involves the
commitment to examine the need for illustrations based on "what's best for
the reader", NOT the technical illustration skills of the author.

The quick answer, is that if the required illustrations are beyond your
skill level, use a professional illustrator. The longer answer involves
designing documents for the reader... not the writer.

As technical communicators, we are teachers. Our documents are text books
for our consumers. As teachers, it's best to have english teachers teaching
english and art teachers teaching art. Or, in other words, the two
disciplines working together to create the BEST text books possible.

Honestly folks, I've seen less and less illustrations in technical manuals.
This is due (in part) to lack of commitment by writers to consider their
audience and fight for the tools (talents) necessary to serve them. It's
also due to budgets, trends and all the other "excuses". However, these
influences should not over-ride our responsibility to create first class,
user friendly documents for our consumers. Let's work TOGETHER to produce
documents filled with words and pictures that instruct, inform and educate.

Michael J. Maloney
President, EPIC Creative Services
2230 Lyndhurst Avenue
Charlotte, NC 28203 USA

President, ISTI (International Society for Technical Illustrators)
Business Phone: 1-704-523-6907
Business Fax: 1-704-522-7504
Home Phone: 1-803-366-6763

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