Some tips on typographical elements of technical writings
Source: Anderson, P. V. 2007. Technical Communication: A Reader-Centered Approach. (6th ed.). Boston: Thomson Wadsworth
- Align related elements with one another
Imagine a grid on the page where you align paragraphs or images on vertical lines across the page This makes the page clean and tidy, which readers will find it comfortable to read. Explore and exploit the alignment functions on your word processing software.
- Group related items visually
For example, when writing instructions with illustration, put text on the right and graphics on the left. In simple typing, make use of white space between lines to group items.
- Use contrast to establish hierarchy and focus
Text size, boldness, using italic, colour and text type (serif*, sans serif**) can be used to produce contrast.
* serif: font type with decorative tails (e.g. Times New Roman)
**sans serif: font type without decorative tails (e.g. Arial)
- Use repetition to unify your communication visually
Not to repeat the sentences, but the designs and page layout. Not only is visual unity aesthetically pleasing, readers will also find neat and tidy text easy to use.
- Select type that is easy to read
Fancy fonts like Palace Script MT can be very special. But reading texts for practical purpose in this kind of visually unclear text can be tricky, if not difficult. Think in your reader’s shoes. Always pick the font that is easy to read.
- Design your overall document for ease of use and attractiveness
The size, the shape, the binding and the choice of paper of your published material (either hard or soft copy) matter. For example, a traveller’s guide should be printed in pocket size, rectangular shape, soft binding and light but reasonably durable paper for easy carrying. On the other hand a poster should be printed on fine paper in large size so that your readers can read the content from a distance.