Re: TECHWR-L Digest - 6 Apr 1997 to 7 Apr 1997

Subject: Re: TECHWR-L Digest - 6 Apr 1997 to 7 Apr 1997
From: Peter Brown <pbrown -at- MKS -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 8 Apr 1997 11:15:54 -0400

Robert Plamondon wrote:
> Pete Kloppenburg writes:
> >So here are the problems (this is where you good people come in):
> >1) I notice that almost all manuals for development tools are 7x9"
> >perfect bound. This looks sharp, but you can't lie it flat without
> >breaking the spine, and you can't flip it over. Can you tell me
> >why most companies ship perfect bound manuals instead of
> >spiral-bound?
> Because it looks snappier. The user takes second place, as usual.
> The 7x9" format is used because some industry leader or other used
> it -- IBM used a truly wretched 5 1/2 x 8 1/x binder format for
> the IBM PC, and everyone else in the industry (except Apple)
> mindlessly copied them. (Apple had already settled on a lay-flat
> spiral-bound format, but IBM didn't notice, and most of us
> had to live with the bulky, rings-that-snap-open-and-dump-your-
> pages-on-the-floor designs given to us by the lemmmings who
> follow industry-standard practices.

If your software and manuals happen to be shipped in boxes that assume a
7x9" manual, you *might* want to consult the marketing department before
you start changing manual sizes.

> You should design documentation for the user, for yourself, or
> both. 8.5x11" documentation is a convenient size to develop,
> since that's the size paper comes in (in this country), so it's
> easy on the writer.

So we should put the user first -- except if we feel like making the
manual 8.5x11" because "it's easy on the writer"?

"Opinions? I've had a few. But then again, too few to mention."
Peter Brown, Technical Writer (pbrown -at- mks -dot- com)
Mortice Kern Systems Inc. (

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