Re: DISCUSSION: Multiple Text Styles on Same Page

Subject: Re: DISCUSSION: Multiple Text Styles on Same Page
From: Heli Roosild <HeliR -at- MSMAILHQ -dot- NETIMAGE -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 12 Dec 1997 11:26:00 PST

Excellent discussion topic, Beth! The quiet page vs visual cues.

The problem with the quiet page is that, while it is easier to read, it
is harder to skim. And, as someone once said, computer documentation is
"used, not read." With the loud page, the eye can jump from funny font to
funny font and not only find information quickly but also get a sense for
the contents of the entire page. I suspect that some conventions could
be eliminated now that computer users are more savvy. However, I believe
there are benefits to differentiating the following:

--Information users need to type. We use a monospaced font to ensure
that all characters and spaces are clearly discernible. We also put bold
on it, to make it easier for the eye to find it when jumping back and
forth between the page and the screen.

--Code samples and file listings. Again, we use a monospaced font,
because spacing is critical and our programmer users expect to see it
this way.

--Computer "odd bits" such as file names in running text, to help the
user recognize that these are not meant to be read as English words (and
that they're not typos).

--Variables that need to be replaced with the user's own information. We
reserve italic for that.

We also try to quiet some of the loudness by using fonts that blend
together well. As is common, our body font is serifed, and our headings
are sans. As the diferentiator in running text, we use our heading font.
And our monospaced font is not Courier, but rather one that except for
the monospacing looks just like our heading font.

That said, I think most people's opinion on this question is highly
colored by their own personal taste.


(Ms.) Heli L. Roosild helir -at- netimage -dot- com
Manager of Documentation 703/709-3171
Network Imaging Corporation
Herndon, VA 20170 USA, or

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