Re: Text Legibility for Electronic Documentation

Subject: Re: Text Legibility for Electronic Documentation
From: Bob Bench <BoBB -at- SLC -dot- TWC -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 24 Apr 1997 09:35:12 -0600

On 4/22 Diane Burke said:
"I am interested in learning more about text legibility rules
for on-screen documentation (text font, size, colour, etc.). Is
anyone aware of rules, research, or suggestions that make
on-screen documentation easier to read and to understand."

There are several guidelines that are probably based on
experience with hardcopy more than on research on
electronic documents:
* Black text on a white background is the most legible.
* Limit line length to 10-12 words for readability.
* Use sans serif fonts for body text in electronic docs.

User Interface Engineering is reporting some excellent
research on the usability of electronic docs. They report that
we may be making some unwarranted assumptions about the
trade-offs between readability and ease of navigation. You
can subscribe to their newsletter by sending E-mail to
UIETips-Request -at- UIE -dot- com with the word SUBSCRIBE in the

The Monotype font foundry has created several fonts for
Microsoft that were optimized for the low resolutions of
monitors. Verdana is one of the latest and it is significantly
better than the others for body text. You can download these
without cost from Microsoft's web site. This site also has
some links to sites that discuss design issues for electronic

Bob Bench
Technical Writer
Northwest Pipeline Corp.
Salt Lake City, Utah
bobb -at- slc -dot- twc -dot- com

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