Re: Reasons not to use Courier font

Subject: Re: Reasons not to use Courier font
From: "Doctor Heart" <Lonestar -at- nesma -dot- net -dot- sa>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 2 Oct 1999 05:33:48 -0000


The list had a similar discussion on the matter of Times New Roman vs. Arial
a few months ago. At the time I explained that studies had been conducted
suggesting that their was a proportion of the population that benefited from
a semi-proportional, sans serif font, such as Arial. If my assumption is
correct, and the customer sees the choice between Courier and Times New
Roman, she intuitively recognizes that Courier has a "readability" benefit
over Times New Roman. A semi-proportional, sans serif font such as Arial
should achieve her objective and provide your deliverable with what was once
called a "clean, open look". This "clean, open look" is a more appealing
look - generally more appealing to management staff, and is a less daunting
"read" - compared to compressed text (i.e., Times New Roman) - for those who
are averse to reading because of learning style, visual acuity problems, and
so on.

Months ago, I gave examples to the list of the benefit of semi-proportional,
sans serif fonts. I'll provide another. Because my reputation is built on
design as well as content, I was brought into a major manufacturing company
that was having difficulty getting their plant employees to read/follow
directions and instructions written and published by corporate. I reviewed
the material and found that it could be tuned (steps were poorly branched)
but overall was very well written. I tuned the writing by adding material,
and rearranging, where appropriate, the layout.

When finished, the most conspicuous change was in the use of Arial. Once
again (this happens frequently) there were those who argued against its use.
As a CONSULTANT, I reminded the customer that the condition I took the
project on was that I would "write" to the end-user - which included design
and format. I explained that the test was what the end-users said and did
with the materials. The customer acquiesced and, in a phrase, the
deliverables were a resounding success. The end-users won (not the customer,
and her staff). One month post reviews of the deliverables found that the
end-users at the several manufacturing sites - state side and offshore -
could and did read them! Several unsolicited remarks mentioned not being
"afraid" to look at the material. The greatest satisfaction was when I later
visited two plants for a tour and plant personnel greeted me like someone
who had "saved" them.

The purpose of technical writing is to serve the end-user. It is the sole
governing principle in effectively writing AND presenting material that the
end-user can read, comprehend, and follow...and whatever it takes to do
this. So, if it means that the "owner" of the project must give up
tradition, personal predilections, etc., to do it, then so be it, if the
"owner" truly puts the interests of the end-users first.

I'd strongly recommend a semi-proportional font. Contact Adobe, too. Long,
long ago they had material on this subject.


P.S. It just occurred to me: It is probably long forgotten, but at one time
the most frequently asked question was how to set Arial over Times New Roman
as the default font, in large measure because it was considered too
difficult to read - particularly on screen. Microsoft should be able to
provide you findings on this.

Terri Ward wrote ----------------------------------------------

Hi group,

I'm working on a project where the customer
wants an old, 1000-page document updated. The
document is so old it's formatted in Courier,
and this is the font the Customer wants me to
use on the _new_ document. She believes that
Courier is eminently readable and the best
choice of fonts. Help!

Time is running out, and I haven't been able
to find any authoritative sources to backup
my argument that a proportional, serif font
like Times-Roman would be more readable.

Can anyone help? Thanks a bunch in advance,

Teri Ward
Technical Writer/Web Designer
teri -dot- a -dot- ward -at- boeing -dot- com

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