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Use a real screenshot or an illustration?

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In software documentation, it’s most common to use real screenshots. However, there are also cases where it’s better to use an illustration of a software user interface. An illustration may look very similar to reality, or it may be abstract and simplified.

Using an illustration can be a good solution:

if you cannot take a real screenshot (examples: the software does not yet exist; the software doesn’t work properly; you don’t have access to the software; the software runs on a device that doesn’t allow you to capture the screen)

if you don’t need to show the screen in detail but only some characteristic elements

Using illustrations can also simplify the translation process (see Tips for translating screenshots).

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