Illustrations for manuals

Illustrations are necessary to visualise your product in a clear manner. Line art, or vector graphics, is the preferred illustration style for instruction manuals as it has many advantages over photographs (screenshots are an exemption from this, read further below):

If you don’t have vector graphics for your products already, you may just send us some product photos or CAD data and we will create the necessary illustrations for you.

Text in illustrations

Embedding text in illustration files is still common among semi-professional technical writers – though it has many disadvantages:

File formats

If you create line art illustrations yourself, save them in a common professional file format like EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) or AI (Adobe Illustrator). Using WMF (Windows Meta File), CDR (Corel Draw) or other formats can significantly lower the quality or even render your document unprintable. This is especially important when your files include text (if cannot be avoided) or colours that must be reproduced exactly.

Never convert your vector graphics to a pixel format like JPG, PNG, BMP or TIFF unless the file is too complex to print (this often happened in the early years of DTP but shouldn’t happen any more). If you do, you will loose all of the advantages of vector graphics.

Pixel format for software and GUI illustrations

Line art in vector format cannot be used if your product has no hardware or you need to illustrate the graphical user interface (GUI). In these cases, it is advisable to use a lossless pixel format like TIFF, PNG or BMP to avoid quality loss through compression. When using JPEG, for instance, your images may appear blurred or even pixelised. Once you saved a screenshot in JPEG format, you will not be able restore the original quality. Also be aware that creating a PDF from your file can virtually destroy your pixel images unless you know the right settings in your PDF creation tool that prevent your images from being compressed to death.

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