Results: Printed Page Layout Trends (long)

Subject: Results: Printed Page Layout Trends (long)
From: PETER STEPHEN ONG <pong -at- SFSU -dot- EDU>
Date: Fri, 4 Apr 1997 14:15:33 -0800

TOPIC: Class Report: Trends in Printed Page Layout.


Technical Writers:

Here is the summary of my report. Some writers on this list
recommended that I post the results. Many thanks to all who replied.

The following information came from various technical writers and does
not reflect my personal opinion or bias to any trend. Most of these
trends are probably very familiar to you writers already. My audience
was my classmates, so these results might serve to help other students on
this list more than to subscribed writers.

*** NOTE: Your company policy/ templates may differ. The following are
TRENDS and NOT RULES. Please do not be offended if you or your company do
not follow the list below since trends are always and constantly changing.

Conventional Printed Page Layout Trends:

* Expanded use of white space.
* Minimum one inch margin all around.
* General trend is to use headers and footers.
* " " is skinny rule below header, rule above footer.
* Point size ranges from 10pt. to twelve.
* Preferred fonts: Times, Garamond, Courier, and Palatino for
serif, Arial, Swiss, and Helvetica for sans serif.
* MS Word the most used and preferred software. PageMaker for
short documentations, FrameMaker for longer docs.
* Write less for general public, more for engineers and technical
* Avoid text-heavy paragraphs--break up text into multiple
* Six-eight sentences per paragraph preferred.
* Standard output: 600 dpi laser for in-house printing.
* Standard heading/ subheading trends:
- Level 1: Bold, all caps, 18pt. size.
- Level 2: Bold, initial caps, 16pt. size.
- Level 3: Italics (no bold), initial caps, 14pt.
- Level 4: Bold, initial caps, run-in with sentence.
- Level 5 and more: Not recommended.
* Use active voice.
* Color is not considered a rising trend---too expensive.
* If you can number or bullet certain info.---do so---better than

Printed Manual Trends:

* The most use of white space---if possible.
* Use templates for formatting (Word or company's).
* Write less, but convey more.
* Switch to 5 X 7 or 7 X 9 inch pages and away from 3-ring binders
with 8.5 X 11 inch pages.
* Use of tables (where possible).
* Increased emphasis on bullets.
* Trend of using two inch vertical column of white space
running from header to footer and placed above page number.

Printed Instruction Set Trends:

* Use K.I.S.S. principle (Keep it Simple).
* Avoid "chunking/ grouping" procedures (see bullet below).
* Separate procedures with white space.
* Number all sequential information.
* Bullet non-sequential information.
* Highlight and separate important info. for emphasis.
* Use visuals (when appropriate).
* Organize according to order of process/ task.
* Numbering of headings and subheads (1.1, 1.2, etc.).

---Rising Trends---

* Organize according to topic/ subject search.
* Switch to on-line documentation (not covered in my report

*** Trend for ALL three types listed above: Write for the user/ reader,
and NOT for the product. (Hint: A user/ reader is a human and is not a
thing). :-)

Of course the above list is by no means complete or as detailed as
workplace standards. (If it was, I would need a wheelbarrow to bring my
report to class. And I would ask not for an "A", but to get paid!) :-).
The required length was 4-6 pages (1500 to 2000 words). I maxed out at 14
pages and 4,000 words. YIKES! So please do not personally send me
any Printed Page Layout Trends unless I TOTALLY missed something
important that my classmates should know or I got a trend wrong. Thanks.

(pong -at- sfsu -dot- edu)

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