RE: Get to the point?

Subject: RE: Get to the point?
From: Geoff hart <ghart -at- attcanada -dot- ca>
To: "Techwr-L (E-mail)" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>, "'Sierra Godfrey'" <kittenbreath -at- hotbot -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 4 Sep 2000 10:37:25 -0400

Sierra Godfrey <<...was perusing a book on marketing principles... For several
chapters, the book goes on about "getting to the point"... The book says, "...
Most marketing communications fail for the same reason. They never tell you
what their point is. Tell people in a single compelling sentence why they
should buy from you instead of someone else." For you minimalist tech writers,
do you think this at all applies to how we write technical information?>>

Unquestionably. People read documentation to accomplish something, not to wade
through lengthy introductions in the hope that they've found the right section
of the book. There's also no question that many forms of instruction do still
require an introduction to provide context for certain audiences. This context
may be something as simple as "don't try this unless you've made a backup" or
something as complex as an explanation of the metaphor used for the user
interface and underlying data architecture. So the techwhirler equivalent to "a
single compelling sentence" is something that reassures the reader that they've
reached the right part of the docs, and provides any crucial information they
need before proceeding.

> The book also goes on to say how oranges are actually green and growers spray
> them with some compound to make them orange (in an attempt to show how we all
> buy into fake things), but I doubt this because the organic oranges I buy are
> orange, and I've never seen a green orange on a tree.

I've heard the same thing. Although it's true that _ripe_ oranges are indeed
orange, many commercial fruits are picked long before they're ripe and are
ripened artificially during storage or transport; the goal is to ensure they'll
survive storage and transport from (say) southernmost Florida to northernmost
Ontario and arrive ready to eat. Organic produce is usually sold to a smaller
audience more concerned with quality, and is thus likely delivered ripe--and
orange.

--Geoff Hart ghart -at- netcom -dot- ca
Pointe-Claire, Quebec, Canada
"Most business books are written by consultants and professors who haven't
spent much time in a cubicle. That's like writing a firsthand account of the
Donner party based on the fact that you've eaten beef jerky."--Scott Adams, The
Dilbert Principle






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