Guidelines for screenshots in knowledge articles


Introduction

As with all software, please ensure that your usage falls within the licensing terms. For instance, some software may not be licensed for use on TTU-owned devices.

Introduction

Imagery can enhance an article by making it more visually pleasing. Screenshots can augment the instructions you write to make them easier to understand. As the saying goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words."

Try to keep clean, neat looking screenshots whenever possible. Match markup/callouts to borders, don't leave a side hanging, and avoid resizing in such a way that leaves a screenshot blurry.

File format

Use the PNG file format for all screenshots when possible. JPG and GIF are acceptable but not preferred. (This includes originals and screenshots with markup/callouts.) Animated GIFs are acceptable in rare cases to help illustrate an action.

Cropping and resizing

Resize images first and add markup/callouts last. Never upload an image to the knowledge base article and then resize. Always do your resizing and cropping first in an image editing tool such as Paint or Paint.NET. Then, upload them to the knowledge base editor.

Screenshots in ServiceNow should be a maximum of 755 pixels wide.

Try to crop by % or pixel width, and try to remain consistent throughout your screenshots. Resize the screenshot to be as small as possible while still making the text readable.

For Windows, the touch interface screens tend to have fonts which are all large, and these can be sized much smaller as long as the text is still legible. For screenshots where the font is already at a normal size, crop rather than scale screenshots whenever possible.

Screenshots from macOS will often be twice the size needed due to Retina Displays, so simply reduce them by 50% both horizontally and vertically.

On mobile devices, try to keep all of the screenshots the same size for consistency when scrolling down.

Look at other published articles to get an idea of the right size for your screenshots.

Taking screenshots

For directions on how to take screenshots, see the article How to: Capture a screenshot.

TIP: You can take a screenshot of User Account Control using some workarounds.

Save your screenshots in PNG format.

Insert a screenshot

Never paste images directly into the knowledge base editor. Instead, use the published instructions for how to insert images.

Keep the original files

Save both the originals and the modified versions to a repository outside the knowledge base, such as SharePoint. (Check with your supervisor regarding where your department stores these.) This allows yourself and other authors to go to this location later if you need to use the screenshots for another purpose (for example, for related articles).

TIP: Check this site to see if a screenshot you need already exists; it may save you time.

Markup/callouts

Draw attention to a particular part of a screenshot by using red underlines, red boxes, or red arrows. A useful tool for this purpose is Paint (built into every version of Windows). Use 3 pixel width for lines, boxes and arrows.

For arrows use the filled arrow in Paint.NET rather than the regular arrow.

EXAMPLE:

example screenshot

Arrows can be used to indicate motion, such as dragging an icon.

example screenshot

If there are multiple items on which the audience needs to click, try putting them in multiple steps. You can get away with having them click two things in the same screenshot by underlining the first one and putting a box around the second one, but avoid more than three clicks, as it can lead to confusion on the order.

Avoid using multiple underlines and boxes in one screenshot unless it makes sense. For instance, you wouldn't want to box an item in the middle of the screenshot, then box the "Next" button at the bottom.

Use of brackets is good for indicating large sections of settings, or cases where multiple options are possible but none is preferred/recommended. Keep the bracket tails short; the proportions should be similar to the bracket character on your keyboard. Take care as to not put the bracket too close to the objects you are indicating; the bracket shouldn't be covering the options.

EXAMPLE:

example screenshot

For right-click scenarios, use a red arrow to point to the spot where you want your audience to right-click.

When adding a box around part of a screenshot, use red (HEX: #FF0000, RGB: 255, 0, 0) unless the picture is mainly red. If there is a lot of red in the screenshot, try using a red arrow to point to the object to which you wish to draw attention instead of using a red box. In rare cases, you may use lime green (HEX: #B5E61D, RGB: 181, 230, 29) boxes/arrows, or you may choose to use red but with a drop shadow to distinguish your lines from the screenshot itself.

Border width

While inserting an image, specify a border thickness of 1 pixel. Please view the article regarding this topic.

TIP: Avoid a "double border." This usually happens when the image you insert has a border already, and then you add an extra border. To prevent this, crop the border out of the screenshot before inserting it.

Remove identifying info

Avoid using account-specific information (for example, usernames) or computer-specific information (for example, hardware addresses) in screenshots. Below is a list of helpful hints to assist with this.

  • Use a temporary guest account or local account.
  • Type "your_eRaider_username" on the screen and take the screenshot. Then, replace "your_eRaider_username" in the field with your own information to continue through the steps and take the rest of your screenshots.
  • Avoid showing any internal information such as server names and paths. These may be unavoidable and would need to be blurred out.
  • Create a generic account and use that instead of a personal account. This is easier on consumer services (for example, texastechfan@gmail.com).
  • Rename the local user and/or local device name temporarily.
  • Edit the web page before you take the screenshot by using the information found below under "Using 'inspect' option in browsers".
  • If it is impossible to avoid account-specific or computer-specific information in a screenshot, edit the screenshot later to replace the text on the screen with example text. You may do so by editing it in Paint or Paint.NET. For tips, see the section below titled "Tips for editing fonts in screenshots". If you cannot replace the text by editing the screenshot, then as a last resort you can blur it using Paint.NET.

example screenshot

Using "inspect" option in browsers

When taking screenshots in a browser (eRaider, Raiderlink, etc.) we can use "Inspect Element" (or similar option) to easily change text to what we want it to, before taking the screenshot. Right-click where you would like to change the text, and click Inspect Element. A section will appear in the bottom half or right side of the browsing window with some text highlighted. (You may have to expand the region by clicking on the disclosure triangle.) Double-click in the highlighted section, and change the desired text. Press Enter/return on the keyboard to confirm the changes. Do this for any necessary sections

TIP: You can also temporarily edit the contents on any web page by typing javascript:document.body.contentEditable='true'; document.designMode=value_on; void 0 into the address bar and pressing Enter/return.

Tips for editing fonts in screenshots

When you are working on screenshots, it is sometimes helpful to replace the specific information about an account or username with generic information. For example, you can replace your own name with "John Doe" or "Jane Doe". When doing so, it helps to match the font in the screenshot.

Sometimes if you are not sure which font to use, you can search on the web for the name of the font used in a specific operating system. For example, if you look up "Android default font" you will find that it uses one called Roboto, and Google's website has a download which allows you to install that font in Windows. This can prove useful when replacing text in Android phone screenshots.

Some fonts that you can install on your computer and use in Paint or Paint.NET when editing screenshots are available for download from https://www.depts.ttu.edu/ithelpcentral/km/fonts.

This location contains the following fonts:

  • San Francisco (used in Apple operating systems)
  • Roboto (used in Android)
  • Helvetica Neue
  • Lucida Grande

If you are not able to install the fonts linked above, a good Windows equivalent to Helvetica Neue and San Francisco are the Segoe UI family of fonts.

In Windows, Microsoft sometimes uses Segoe UI, MS Sans Serif, Microsoft Sans Serif, and Arial.

Arial, Verdana, Tahoma, and Times New Roman are also very standard fonts which are popular in the user interfaces of many operating systems, applications, and websites.

Get rid of cursors

When you're taking screenshots, try to catch the screen just at the moment that the cursor has disappeared. That way it doesn't show up in the screenshot. It just looks a little more clean that way.

TIP: If you do have a screenshot where the cursor shows up, you can erase it using the eraser tool in Paint. If the background is not white, use the color picker. After clicking the color picker, right-click on the color in the screenshot that you want to use with eraser. Then, when you erase it will be that color.

Numbering within screenshots

Numbering inside screenshots is best suited for articles used to explain features and icons. This should be avoided for general step-based articles.

EXAMPLE:

In this example, the screenshot uses circles with lowercase alphabet numbering. Avoid using numbers since we mainly use numbers in step-based articles.

example screenshot.

a) Description of icon features

b) etc.

A preset circle has been created for use in these instances. It is available for download from https://www.depts.ttu.edu/ithelpcentral/km/images/circle.png. Copy and paste the image into a new layer in Paint.NET. Keep the circles neatly aligned, and add bold lowercase alphabet numbering inside of the circle. Use the default font in Paint.NET, which is Calibri.

Standard themes

It's best to take screenshots in an environment with as little customization as possible. Please use standard color themes in your operating system, software (for example, Chrome), and services (for example, Outlook on the web). If your device has a dark mode, disable it before taking screenshots (unless the article itself is about dark mode).