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Technical Writers’ Companion

If your document will be shipped electronically, use A4 format or Letter format, depending on which format is more common in the countries where you sell your product. If you leave page margins of at least 1.5 cm on all sides, both formats usually also print well on the paper of the other format.

Alternatively, you can use a custom format of 21 cm x 27.94 cm, which combines the minimum dimensions of A4 format and Letter format.

If your document will be shipped on paper:

If there’s any corporate style guide that you’re obliged to follow, use the page size that this style guide suggests.

Check with product management and sales whether the manual needs to fit into any given package, case, or compartment.

Check with your printers’ shop whether they have preferred sizes for which printing costs are especially low.

Within the remaining scope and options, choose a page size that suits the requirements of your audience as well as possible (see also Design for your audience). Do the users need a small page size so that the manual fits into a pocket? Or do users need a large page size with lots of information on one page—for example, in a service manual, where turning pages with dirty fingers is very inconvenient?

When in doubt, use a larger rather than a smaller page size, especially if your document contains many detailed pictures and many tables.

Usually, use portrait orientation. Use landscape orientation only if you need to show a lot of information side by side.

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What page margins?

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