Layout for technical documents

I’ve being doing some research regarding how to present a good quality technical document (to be more specific, a PhD Thesis).

It seems to me there is some consensus regarding the fonts (as described in What font types are good for a technical document? and Fonts for technical reports), which makes me very happy because I really like when standards are around.

So, since my thesis is in biomedical engineering, I’ve come to two conclusions: to use Times New Roman and to set the main font at 12pt (most of my readers are over 40 years old).

Now what I need to know as one of the most general characteristics is what the text block should be. I’ve read some Tschichold’s guidelines, and it can be summarized like this:

inner=0.123\paperwidth,% (inner margin)

(Look here for a graphical description)

Now, it seems that is somewhat The Standard (although yesterday I was in a bookstore and I didn’t see any book following Tschichold’s scheme) for writing books, but is it OK to assume this should be the layout for a technical document? If not, what other set of rules can I follow?


(Moved from comment)
look at other documents from your department. The reason you are having trouble identifying a standard, especially in the bookstore, is that there is no standard. Graphic Design is an art, not a science. We could cite studies about preferences etc, but they are really an attempt at bracketing an almost completely subjective subject in an objective manner. You will still be left with subjective leeway to get things done. If you need a rule, get some hardcopy and use a ruler. 12 pt seems reasonable. Margins and spacing are dictated by space, money and use requirements. (e.g grading/copyediting)

some pseudo-typical measurements for books:

  • .375-.675 (inches) margins
  • gutter margin larger by .75x
  • gutter margin smaller by .75x
  • bottom margin larger than top margin by 1.2x-1.5x
  • 1.2x type size as line spacing (leading) for body text
  • header lines 1.2x-1.5x the type size of the type size one step lower in content hierarchy.
  • captions .75x-1x body text size, with line height 1x-1.2x caption text size
  • runaround for inset images: 1x body type size left/right; .5x body text size top/bottom

I’ll add for a 3rd time: if your department has a style guide use it. It may be required. If you are submitting to a journal, they have guidelines. Use them.

In those cases, the decisions are being made for you.

Source : Link , Question Author : Mario S. E. , Answer Author : horatio

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