Examples of GOOD Technical Writing: Internet RFCs

Subject: Examples of GOOD Technical Writing: Internet RFCs
From: "Ben Kovitz" <bkovitz -at- nethere -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 1 Jul 2002 09:29:59 -0700

Some sparkling examples of *great* technical writing are the RFCs
maintained by the Internet Engineering Task Force.

An RFC is a "request for comments". The Internet standards were built
by people proposing them as RFCs. As people implemented and used them,
they eventually became adopted as standards.

Most are remarkably simple and straightforward. They tell a programmer
all the technical details needed to implement them, they put them in
context, and they do so simply and readably, without fuss or fanciness.
I think of them as the ultimate examples of practical, beautiful
technical writing--the level to strive for every time I work on a
document. They have really been read and used by thousands of people to
build one of the greatest technological achievements in all of human

Main repository page and index:

RFC821, the original proposal for how Internet mail gets sent

RFC822, email format

RFC1171, PPP (protocol for connecting to the Internet through a model)

RFC1180, TCP/IP tutorial (I haven't worked with this one, but browsing
just now it really looks good!)

RFC1341, MIME format (format for email attachments)

Ben Kovitz
Author, Practical Software Requirements: A Manual of Content & Style

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