RE: Idiotic Tech Writing Prize

Subject: RE: Idiotic Tech Writing Prize
From: "Downing, David" <DavidDowning -at- users -dot- com>
To: "Bill Swallow" <techcommdood -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 26 Jan 2009 11:46:41 -0600

-----Original Message-----
From: Bill Swallow [mailto:techcommdood -at- gmail -dot- com]
Sent: Monday, January 26, 2009 12:04 PM
To: Downing, David
Cc: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Re: Idiotic Tech Writing Prize

> We need to make the distinction between faulty *writing* and faulty
> *logic.* Something can be very well written and still be totally
> illogical.

I would argue that technical writing leans heavier on the logical side
than the well-written side. Technical writing is not about beautiful
prose. It's about getting the right info to the right people in the
right manner at the right time for the right reasons.

Bill Swallow

Avid homebrewer and proud beer snob.


I don't have any argument with that. There are a number of practices
that are common in technical writing, such as the use of sentence
fragments, that blatantly violate the rules of good grammar and elegant
prose. In fact, one rule I had to unlearn is to vary your wording when
repeatedly referring to the same object or idea. In technical writing
you *must* use exactly the same wording each time you refer to a given
object or idea.

My point was rather that you have to be careful not to be swayed by a
piece of writing that is elegant prose, but says something completely
illogical or outrageous. In fact, I remember one of our SMEs rejecting
something I'd written because, "I suddenly realized this was written
very well, but didn't describe what the software really does," or
something to that effect.


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Re: Idiotic Tech Writing Prize: From: Downing, David
Re: Idiotic Tech Writing Prize: From: Bill Swallow

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