Technical Writer

The power of simplicity (Aaron Beaudoin, TWR Class of 2014)


As proprietary technologies fight for relevance in a competitive market, it becomes increasingly important to establish a recognizable brand through an on-line presence. As such, I predict that brand recognition will become a higher priority than content development. Corporations will attempt to become household names based on certain typefaces and colour schemes.

Colour scheme and typeface identifiers can already be seen in social media circles, with Twitter and Facebook each claiming their own shade of blue and their own sans-serif fonts. However, where this change will be most noticeable is in small to mid-sized businesses, where on-line presence is not yet fully recognized.

Small and mid-sized businesses are sure to allocate resources to the development of extra-graphic visual elements that are simple but memorable. Logos will have high figure-ground contrast within web pages and will be scalable based on the type of device that the audience is using. At the same time, these businesses will seek to create content that is easily digested through the reduction of intra-graphic elements and the increased spacing between textual units.

Time spent developing visual elements for company websites will lead to the conveyance of the intended tone of the company and will increase ethos in terms of the customer’s interactions with on-line content over various medias. The ultimate goal for these companies will be to have the public associate certain colours and typefaces with the particular company, even when observed out of context.

Tagging with Latex (Adam Hollett, TWR Class of 2014)

LATEX is a typesetting language that is similar to HTML. LaTeX was created by Leslie Lamport in the 1980s  and is based on the TEX system of formatting documents. LATEX is widely used in academia, especially mathematics, due to its very extensive syntaxes for formatting mathematical formulas. Markup in LATEX consists of regular text that is `marked up’ by applying tags to it. A tag is begun by a single backslash, followed by the name of the tag, followed by the text to be marked up, which is contained within curly braces.

With LATEX, you get the same document with the same code every time. Writing documents in code is incredibly precise. Rather than simply typing a quotation mark, you must specify whether is is a `left-curving’ or a `right-curving’ quote. When you want to print a dash, you must specify in the code whether it is a hyphen (-), an en dash ({), or an em dash (|).  LATEX also adds pretty text formatting, including things like ligatures.  LATEX has a default document format, but any aspect of the format can be altered by including `packages’ at the beginning of your document. These can have unlimited effects including changing the size of captions, altering margins, increasing line spacing, or changing the typeface. The
default typeface of LATEX is called Computer Modern and it is generally only available within the LATEX environment.

Impact of vintage typography on ethos (Matt Murphy TWR 2013-14)

Matt Murphy, a student in Algonquin College’s Technical Writing graduate certificate program, wrote this entry regarding design conventions as part of the TWR2010 Visual Information Design course:

One design element that has been making a comeback in the web design, clothing, and music industry sectors is that of vintage typography. Such typography may evoke a tone of authenticity, even if contrived, to the garment, album cover, or webpage. By using such characters on a relatively new brand of hats, for example, the typography can give the impression that the company has a rich and successful history. As a result, a new hat company with old-fashioned typography can aim for an ethos comparable to that of Stetson.

This form of type may also be making a comeback as a form of nostalgia. In a world where companies are becoming less personal and more short-lived, some people may feel more secure with a brand that reflects a simpler time when hard work, personal relationships with customers, and product quality were higher priority.

Although such typography may create visual noise if overused, it can create an old-school business ethos and a sense of authenticity when used judiciously.