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> That last one is the tricky one.My opinion is that with a mixed readership
> you are better off talking up to the lay readers and providing the
> wherewithall to learn (i.e., a glossary) than talking down to the technical
> readers and possibly loosing credibility.
OK, reality check time:
- Does anyone really believe that they risk losing credibility by using "start"
instead of "boot"?
- Does anyone really believe that writing clearly automatically equates with
writing down to technical readers?
The reason I ask is that I don't.
To take the specific first, "start" is a neutral word, and used just as often as
"boot" by techies. At the risk of bogging down in an example that may not be a
particularly good one, I seriously doubt that techies would notice which one
As for the general, I'm not quite sure where there is room to write down to
anyone in a technical manual. If there is room, you need to tighten up the
manual's structure and language. Possibly, over-simplifying or giving incomplete
or misleading information might be considered "writing down," but, again, that's
simply doing a poor job, no matter what your audience. Provided that the
information is accurate and complete, I have never heard anyone object to simple
or clear language. No matter what the level of expertise, people read manuals
when they need information. If the information they need is there, they're
happy. If the information is easy to find and use, they're happier still.
Making a distinction between information and clarity is a false dichotomy.
Technical writers are supposed to provide both.
Bruce Byfield bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com 604.421.7177
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