Re: Are your documents interesting?

Subject: Re: Are your documents interesting?
From: Dick Margulis <margulisd -at- comcast -dot- net>
To: Steven Brown <stevenabrown -at- yahoo -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 12 Jan 2006 11:16:05 -0500

Steven Brown wrote:

Of course the answer is yes! The challege to us tech
writers is convincing management that users are,
well...just like us! They laugh and cry. They watch
the same TV shows, read the same magazines. They speak
informally. Why does the tone of our documents and
training not reflect what people are used to
experiencing in the larger marketplace?

All together now: IT DEPENDS.

We've had numerous go-rounds on the list about when, where, and if humor, for example, has a place in tech writing. And we just had a thread about contractions. The same considerations apply to conversational writing style in general.

In the instructions for swapping out a coolant pump on a nuclear reactor, you probably don't want to be too loosey-goosey with the language. Or in the instructions for filling out the forms for Medicare Part D, either. The user guide for the latest video game is another story.

The two big considerations, from management's point of view, are:

1. Is there a chance that someone with limited reading skills is going to misunderstand the document and end up causing harm to budget, equipment, or persons?

2. Is it going to cost extra to hire writers capable of writing an interesting document?

If you can answer No to both questions, go for it.


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Are your documents interesting?: From: Steven Brown

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