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Chapter 12
Working with illustrations

This chapter discusses the issues involved with illustrations, which can be line art or imported graphics or pictures, including:

These are discussed in the following sections.

Creating illustrations

There are several techniques for creating illustrations. Some technical writers write the text first and then think of ways to illustrate it. Others devise a concept for an illustration and write the text around it.

At an early stage of the document it is essential to both the technical writer and the technical illustrator, if different, to discuss the possibilities. The goal is to let the illustrator

When developing illustrations, consider the following:

Illustrations can be created in any graphics-capable tool, including publishing tools (such as Microsoft Word or FrameMaker) and graphics tools (such as Visio).

Illustration types

There are many kinds of illustrations used in our technical documentation, including:

Deciding how illustrations can best be used requires judgment. It is often helpful to consult with an illustrator, other technical writers, and end users of the proposed document during the documentation process.

Standardizing styles

Format illustrations in a consistent fashion throughout a given document and across all documents.

Standardizing typefaces

Apply the following type standards for all illustrations:

Standardizing formats

This section discusses the standard formats for all illustrations as well as the specific standard changes for illustrations that are used within documents as opposed to those that are entire documents.

All illustrations

In general, the following style rules apply to all illustrations:

Illustrations within a document

Some style guidelines vary depending on whether the illustration is contained within a technical document or comprises the entirety of a technical document.

If the illustration is contained within a technical document:

Illustrations that are the document

If the entire document is an illustration:

Standardizing callouts

A callout is a boxed sentence or fragment of text used to highlight a particular area within an illustration. The following callout standards apply to all illustrations:

Standardizing punctuation

Punctuation, symbol, and abbreviation standards apply to text used in illustrations as well as paragraph body text. The sole exception is when noting nomenclature as recorded on hardware. Hardware nomenclature must match what is on the hardware.

Ensure that the wording in an illustration is correct and accurate, and that the wording, nomenclatures, and abbreviations obtained are correct.

Using footnotes with figures

If footnotes are necessary with an illustration, place the footnote one line under the illustration endline. Type the footnote superscript number in italics. The footnote itself is in regular body text but one point size smaller (for example, if the body text is in 11-point Times Roman the footnote text is in 10-point Times Roman). Footnotes longer than one line start at the left margin and end on the right margin. Footnote copy should be single spaced, with a single space between each footnote. Sources for illustrations copied (with permission) from elsewhere are identified immediately after the illustration and are not introduced by a superscripted number.

Using turnpage figures

If an illustration is too wide to fit between the right and left margins and it is impractical to divide the illustration into two parts, rotate the illustration 90 degrees counterclockwise (turnpage) rather than use a foldout page.

All turnpage illustrations are full page. The header and footer remain on the top and bottom of the page (normal portrait view) even if a turnpage (landscape view) figure is used.

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Copyright © 2001 Joshua S. Simon.