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Introduction to the Style Guide: 3

Beyond the Book Era

Once we grasp that fonts, text sizes, heights, widths and so on can have their own independent controls outside the source document, we can begin to contemplate the advantages of liquid layout, an opportunity that was never even dreamed of in the age of book typography.

If our presentation is well designed, the web page will display well in everything from a UXGA screen size (1600 by 1200 pixels) right down to a VGA screen measuring just 640 by 480 pixels. Mark-up using the XML system and some of kind of transformation programming, and you have a way to serve the pages to a PDA screen or even the display of a mobile phone.

Instant re-purposing of documents, for example from screen display to publication in print, has also become possible. The developing technology of web services will soon give us even more means to serve up good-looking pages, provided we start out from a well-structured raw-text source.

The other major advance by comparison with the book era is the ability to serve dynamic documents that have capabilities that would have seemed miraculous on paper. Thanks to scripting, it is possible to expand or collapse documents according to the degree of detail that a reader requires.

The only requirement for these modern miracles is that all elements of the source document be given appropriate mark-up according to the function and organizational meaning of each part. It is then the task of the visual-display typographer to consider ways to present the information so that it can be read comfortably and, wherever possible, so that its genre is obvious before reading even begins.

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