I'm dealing with a product whose installation process is a long fight through terminal/console output. The output is a uniform waterfall of white font on black background, everything looks pretty much the same: errors, warnings, prompts, etc.


Ubuntu console output.

I'm looking for any guidelines/principles to enhance the console output so it's more readable.

Any help in terms of experience or resources is very appreciated!

  • 2
    – Alvaro
    Jan 31, 2017 at 9:27
  • 1
    Do you really need to show all of this information? Filtering out the information that's not useful would make it a lot easier to understand. Perhaps only show information that requires action from the user? Aside from that, some formatting through better use of space and colour would really help. Jan 31, 2017 at 9:51

2 Answers 2


You have only three options. Line breaks, headers and color.

Line Breaks

Line breaks means it takes longer for the reader to reach the end but it breaks the information into reasonable chunks.


Headers could be in the format of

------ Important Information ------- (one example among many)

and take the entire 80 character width (assuming standard 80 character width).


If you have the option for using color that would help as well. Just don't over do it.


I agree with Mayo's answer about Line Breaks, Headers, and Color. I would add that it may be possible to use the concept of Progressive Disclosure by utilizing some kind of environment variables to designate how much information is displayed. It's not really "progressive" since users can't opt-in to more info in the middle of an install, but it's a similar concept.

In your example, I see a lot of "INFO" tags, so hopefully users installing your software can designate up front through environment variables or command line arguments how much information is displayed (verbose, just warnings, all info, etc).

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