If a reader follows a reasonable path1 through your documentation, there should never be a point where he's looking at something incomprehensible. This applies to text, code samples, diagrams...and screen shots. Therefore, unless the structure of your document itself provides this (e.g. through section titles and a consistent format, like in a catalogue), ...
A technical author should always know what illustration would work best at which point in their document. However, it isn't always necessary to prepare the illustrations yourself.
For the documents that I write, I prepare most of the illustrations myself. Especially schematic diagrams, charts and similar reasonably simple technical pictures. However, I ...
I'll borrow an idea Memor-X pointed out to me in my question Are there tools that can aid an author in writing a branching storyline?:
It's a free tool that allows you to create flowcharts. I'm currently using it to create part of my D&D campaign.
You can easily create for example a box/star/... in different colors and add a text as a description....
I am just sharing the guidelines I work by. If required, we can discuss the reasoning behind these guidelines and may be even specific examples. (Say, for example, beyond maintainability and localization costs, yet another reason text is better for less-than-complex steps is search engine optimization.)
When to use screenshots?
You need the context of the ...
Here are some suggestions of tools you can use to make your drawings:
GeoGebra: Interactive geometry, algebra, statistics and calculus application, intended for learning and teaching mathematics and science from primary school to university level [Wikipedia].
Inkscape: Can be used to create or edit vector graphics such as illustrations, diagrams, line arts,...
This depends in part on the type of writing (technical reference manual? novel with illustrations? etc) and how people will read it (printed book? online?).
If a reader follows a reasonable path1 through the document, there should never be a point where he's looking at something incomprehensible. This applies to text, code samples, diagrams, and screen ...
The origin of the image is forever lost.
The oldest mention from the image, is from 17 May 2009, indeed from the website of the university you mentioned. Before that, the image can't be found anywhere.
I wonder if the professor did actually find it somewhere, and unless you could ask him, there is no way to find out where he has it from. Every other ...
I think basic flow charts would work best here. If they are non-technical, they won't care what shapes or symbols you choose or be able to understand anything more than a general overview of the process. Anything related to UML would not be useful to them.
You do not mention an operating system , so I will give you something cross-platform (and free).
As @ChrisW pointed out "the diagram in the OP could be written as a tree of text". So, I am going to suggest something which does not use the mouse - does not even have a GUI, but which I think fits your requirements.
For decades now, I have been using ...
I've written about this subject before.
SW documentation is often reused for different versions of the same software. Therefore, it is important to minimize the number of screen captures you use. Why?
Using out-of-date screen captures causes a lot of confusion.
Replacing/updating screen captures is a lot of work.
Unless it is difficult to do, screen ...
I've seen this done with a "watermark" that says (usually) "sample data" (kind of like this, from here, though that's a table rather than a chart). Think of the "draft" watermark you sometimes see on documents; same idea. Saying something in the text (or figure caption) can be helpful, but this approach has the advantage of embedding the information ...
1) Put the descriptive text first, then the screenshot immediately afterwards. We read down.
In the Print dialog box, click Export to PDF.
[SCREENSHOT of dialog box]
2) You may or may not need a caption, but you should at least label each screenshot. Fig. 1, Screen B, Ralph, something. That allows you to refer to it elsewhere in the text.
As a successful technical communicator since 1998, I must confess I have the visual-arts sensibilities of a gerbil. But I have done well-received diagrams of complex-system components and their relationshops, dataflow diagrams, and similar sorts of schematic-ey illustrations. (Think Visio or similar connect-the-blocks tools.)
As a technical illustrator as well as technical writer, I most frequently generate my own illustrations, and frequently provide that service for others, however I don't think it a reasonable expectation that technical communicators generally create their own illustrations or more complex diagrams.
It's a good practice to derive your own simple diagrammatic ...
I hacked together a simple website to create chord charts online (.png and .svg images): https://chordpic.com.
The use case of this website is if you don't want a million features but just want to create some simple charts very quickly. I created this site to replace the website chordpix.com which recently went dead.
It asks you to name the chord (optional,...
The diagram in the OP could be written as a tree of text.
threat from Venda
marriage to prince Jaxon
betrayed by mother / father
flees to Terravin to live as a barmaid
Rafe + Kaden live with her; she falls in love with Rafe
More generally (instead of "tree view" or "flow chart") you might find that this type of diagram/software could ...
It likely depends on the field you are in and the amount of work and money you want to put into learning a new tool if you have only used Microsoft Word so far for this kind of task.
For example in the technical and scientific community you normally find a lot of fans of LaTex, which is free for anyone to use and offers incredible help with formulae. Have a ...
You don't own the copyright from anything that you've taken as "references from many sources."
You'll need to check under what kind of copyright those sources are. You'll need copyright clearance and/or source attribution (eg, if those materials are under a Creative Commons licence).
UML diagrams are very technical in nature. They have been distilled from informal diagramming techniques such as flow charts and structure charts (neither of which is a UML diagram!) The purpose of a UML diagram is to capture requirements and operations in a precise and unambiguous way, which necessitates user-unfriendly technical terminology. I would surely ...
This may be a bit late but check out https://www.essyguitartab.com/chords. This is a free tool where you can choose from named chords or build your own and add them to a chart that you can then print or export to PDF. I'm not exactly sure of your needs but hopefully the PDFs will give you enough resolution to use the diagrams any way you need to.
I've done this in a number of documents, where I state clearly that it is "illustrative" or "used to demonstrate a concept and the rough proportions of one item to another.
I've found I have the least amount of confusion by stating in the paragraph just before the chart appears, and then stating in the graph somehow.
A great free tool that might be a better experience than your answer is LibreOffice Draw. It's free, they support iOS, and it's very intuitive to use for simple to complex diagrams. It's basically the open-source version of Microsoft Visio, which is widely used in the business world for things like this. You could also pay for Visio, but its price tag ...
While not free (though does have a free trial), Scapple (by the same makers as Scrivener) seems to have everything you need.
They have Mac and Windows versions.
Their roughly 6 minute demonstration video shows much of the power and extreme ease of use, and seems to hit on everything you mention, with this shown for export:
The video shows the ...