Use graphics to clarify your subject matter. A graphic can be a screenshot, diagram, graph, chart, or any graphic element. You can use the following types of graphic:

Formal graphic

A formal graphic is numbered and has a caption. A formal graphic usually appears in the table of contents of a manual.

Informal graphic

An informal graphic is not numbered, and does not have a caption. An informal graphic does not appear in the table of contents of a manual.

2.4.1. Guidelines for Using Graphics

Use the following guidelines to include graphics in your material: Guidelines for Formal Graphics

  • Use a formal graphic when you want to refer to the graphic from other sections of the document.
  • Use a formal graphic when you want the graphic to appear in the table of contents.
  • Use a formal graphic for a screenshot at the start of an applet online Help manual. You do not need an introductory sentence for a screenshot of an applet at the start of an applet manual.
  • Assign an appropriate caption to a formal graphic that matches the style of other captions and section headings. Use title capitalization rules for graphic captions. Position the caption above the graphic. Guidelines for Informal Graphics

  • Use an informal graphic when you do not want to refer to the graphic from other sections of the document.
  • Use an informal graphic when you do not want the graphic to appear in the table of contents.
  • Use an informal graphic for graphics that occur in text blocks, such as screenshots of buttons or icons.

2.4.2. Guidelines for Using Screenshots in Online Help

Use the following guidelines for including screenshots in online Help:

  • Include a screenshot of the applet or application at the start of the manual for the applet or application. The screenshot enables users to verify that the manual describes the same applet or application that they are viewing online.
  • Do not use screenshots indiscriminately in online Help.
  • Make sure that each additional screenshot is really necessary. Bear in mind that the user usually has the application open in the GNOME Desktop, so that a screenshot in the Help does not provide any additional information.

Before you decide to use screenshots in online Help, consider the following points:

  • Users must scroll screenshots to get to the next piece of information. Screenshots slow down the user access to information.
  • Help that describes everything in text is more accessible to users with disabilities than Help with text plus pictures. If a screenshot does not provide additional technical information, then the Help is more complex than necessary for disabled users.
  • Usability studies show that users can confuse Help screenshots with the real application.
  • Task-oriented Help requires fewer screenshots than a descriptive approach.
  • There is a requirement to update screenshots with product development. If the screenshot and the product are out-of-step, you risk confusing the user.
  • There is a requirement for accessibility text for every screenshot. You must update this text each time the screenshot is updated. There is a risk of the accessibility text being out-of-step with the screenshot, or with the application. These factors add to the maintenance load for the writer, and can confuse the disabled user.
  • Screenshots add to the localization burden and cost. The localization team has to capture all screenshots in each language. Also, translators have to translate the accessibility text associated with each screenshot into each language.

2.4.3. Guidelines for Using Screenshots in Printed Manuals

Some GNOME Desktop distributions have a requirement to print manuals covering broad topics, such as the The same manuals are usually also a source of online Help, therefore you need to consider the requirements for both online Help and for printed manuals. Many of the issues associated with screenshots in online Help also apply to screenshots in printed manuals. However, printed manuals are not always used in conjunction with the application running on the GNOME Desktop. Therefore, you might need to use more screenshots in printed manuals than in online Help.

Use the following guidelines for including screenshots in printed manuals:

  • Do not use screenshots in printed manuals for aesthetic purposes. For example, do not use screenshots for the sole purpose of breaking up long passages.
  • Always ensure that there is a user requirement to see a screenshot in a specific location.
  • Always ensure that the screenshots support the text, rather than repeat what the text says.