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Technical Writers’ Companion

Navigation: Visualizing

Images in general

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No matter which type of product you’re documenting and no matter whether an image illustrates a concept or shows hardware or software: Many principles apply to all images alike.

Essentially, it’s all about making your images plain and simple. Users appreciate clear images. The facts are usually complicated enough.

Also, it’s important that your images are designed and structured consistently throughout the entire documentation. This adds even another layer of simplicity because once users get used to the basic design they can fully concentrate on the content in all subsequent images.

With images, follow these basic rules:

Use each image for a clear purpose

Position each image precisely

Page layout of pages with images

Balance the visual weight of images with headings

When to add borders around images?

What image size?

Indicate the size and context of the subject

Guide the users’ eyes

Emphasize what’s important

Zoom in on details

Use text callouts or a legend for labeling?

Tips on formatting callouts and legends

Tips on formatting image texts in general

You rarely need figure titles

You rarely need figure numbers

Color or black and white?

Which resolution?

Which color mode?

Which file format?

Think ahead about editing an image

Think ahead about reusing an image

Think ahead about translating the texts in an image

Tips for developing graphics on your own

Tips for working with graphic artists and photographers

Also note the general rules of visualization, which apply as well. See:

Common basics of visualization

For more specific information on particular image types, see:

Images of hardware

Images of software

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