Simplified language

Subject: Simplified language
From: "Karin Heroux" <karinh -at- cqs -dot- co -dot- za>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 3 Jun 2002 08:05:27 +0200

I appreciate all the honest feedback on the Fog Index. However, to
return to the language issue, the job of a technical writer is not to
improve a user's English skills, but to present technical information in
a way that the user can understand. This means that your opinion of the
lack of English skills in users, and your admiration of your own skill,
should mean nothing in the greater scheme of things.

You have to focus on making your user's life easier and not more
miserable. Language should never distract the user from the content.
Dazzling the user with your repertoire is not the bottom line of being a
good tech writer. If you feel the need to express yourself more
eloquently, write a novel.

Get to know your user and understand their needs. The user is always
more important than your self. To be effective you have to lower
yourself to their level and explain things to them within that context.
I hope that most people on this list agree with me in this.

I have seen too many computer manuals that have to be translated into
simple language before anyone can make sense of the content. Especially
where many people are not first language speakers, which For the
average guy out there, computers are complicated enough without having
to read manuals with a dictionary next to you.

If you do your job well, someone else cannot enrich himself by writing
dummy guides for your software!

Karin Heroux
Technical Writer
CQS Technology Holdings (Pty) Ltd
PO BOX 598, Parklands, 2121, South Africa
Tel: + 27 11 507-0042
Fax: + 27 11 507-0001
Cell: 0824272025
Email:karinh -at- cqs -dot- co -dot- za
Website: <>

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