Looking for tips for writing Mathcad worksheets? We have a few that will help you effectively convey your information. Studies have shown that people read up to 30% more slowly when information is on a computer screen than when it is on a hard copy. There are things you can do to help this situation. The key to good design is simplicity and consistency. Below are some presentation tips:
- Use legible text. You should use legible fonts and sizes, and keep your text regions less than a screen width wide. Wide text lines are hard to read. Italic type and text that is not black on white is also harder to read on a computer screen. Use colour for emphasis.
- Separate paragraphs. If you have multiple paragraphs of text in succession, put each paragraph in a separate text region. This will give you greater control over the appearance of your documents and make it easier for you to reset your page breaks if you need to repaginate. Use hard page breaks to control the appearance of the pages with different displays and printer drivers. You should put in the hard page breaks when you are done with your revisions, as your changes may affect pagination.
- Use headings. Use section heads and subheads to help organise your material and break it up for the reader. Long paragraphs of solid text that run on and on are tiring to the eyes.
- Use bold, not italic. Use bold for emphasis within text, but don’t overuse it. Bold type is harder to read, and too many bold words will make the text appear choppy. Italic type is not as easy to read on a computer screen as on a printed page, so use it sparingly. Underlining should be reserved for hyperlinks.
- Simplify style. Avoid using too many colours, text styles and font styles in a document. Too much formatting can overwhelm the reader and make the information appear to be much more complicated than it actually is. Choose a few styles to emphasise information and use them consistently. Good design is invisible and does not distract from the meaning of the words.
- Minimise scrolling. Remember that the reader will be viewing and using your material on the screen. Be sure they do not have to scroll back and forth too much in order to change values and see the results. Use of the global equals sign will help with that. It is also helpful to list your variables and definitions for the reader. The equation highlight features can be used to indicate where readers can intervene to manipulate values and see new results.
- Organise your regions. Align your text, maths and graphics so the page does not appear cluttered and disorganised.
- Use only a single space between sentences and words in Text Regions. Multiple spacing can lead to unsightly line wrapping on different displays. Avoid trying to align text by pressing the spacebar repeatedly. Most fonts have proportional spacing, which makes it virtually impossible to align text this way.
- Size regions. You should also avoid using the [Enter] key to break a line of text in a text region. Hard returns at the ends of lines may not display properly for users whose display settings are different from those of the author. A better approach is to reset the wrap margin for the text region itself by selecting the region, then grabbing the double arrow on the right side to shorten the region. This also avoids problems when editing and revising your text.
- Provide hyperlinks. Provide hyperlinks that lead readers through your material in the order you wish them to view it. A table of contents with links to each section, or links within files to the next file will help the reader move along in a designated order.
- Use “live” maths. Maths in Mathcad is live so use it to your advantage. Provide material for the user to interact with, suggest places they can change your numbers and variables and give them graphs to see the results.