The video tutorial on format

borrowed from the folks at World Usability Day

I don’t know people who read at work for fun. They read because they need help doing their jobs. That means they’re looking for documents they can USE.

Few things make a document more usable than format. (I’m talking about white space, typography, etc.) Revising Professional Writing devotes a chapter to this topic. I’ve been using short video tutorials (<15 minutes each) with my own professional writing students for years. It means I don’t have to spend class time giving these tutorials. Plus students can listen to whichever tutorial they want whenever they want.

Anyway . . . I’m updating those old videos and posting them here. I’ve been using technology long enough to anticipate problems so . . . let me know what you think.

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  1. The principles of interpretation outlined in this video are from Gestalt psychology and are discussed in detail in Campbell, Kim. (1995). Cohesion, Continuity and Coherence. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

    Two of these principles are

    1. SIMILARITY: two similar items will be perceived as related (and dissimilar items will be perceived as unrelated). That’s why, e.g., writers use italics for book titles and double quotes for journal or magazine articles.

    2.PROXIMITY: two items that are close together will be perceived as related (and two items that are far apart will be perceived as unrelated). That’s why, e.g., sentences within a single paragraph are closer together than sentences across two different paragraphs.

    Another text that deals extensively with visual layout is Sammons, Martha. (2007) Document Design for Writers. Chicago: Parlay Press.

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