RE: Examples of Minimalist Writing

Subject: RE: Examples of Minimalist Writing
From: "McLauchlan, Kevin" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>
To: "salt -dot- morton -at- gmail -dot- com" <salt -dot- morton -at- gmail -dot- com>, "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 29 Sep 2009 09:28:24 -0400



> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> techwr-l-bounces+kevin -dot- mclauchlan=safenet-inc -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr
-l.com [mailto:techwr-l-bounces+kevin.mclauchlan=safenet-> inc -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf Of Chris Morton
> Sent: Monday, September 28, 2009 4:06 PM
> To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> Subject: Re: Examples of Minimalist Writing
>
> >
> > Can anyone point me to some really good examples of
> minimalist writing?
>
>
> Yes.
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^


And THAT would be why I never trusted the concept of "minimalist" writing in Customer documentation for anything more complicated than a two-position switch.

How can you write "minimally" for someone who doesn't already know what it is they must accomplish - i.e. relating their actual goal with the function and capability of the product? If you just give them the bare instruction to do a specific thing, that's fine... as long as they know that that specific thing (among all the other possibilities available) was what they need to do in that situation.

"To promulgate the framistan, do:

1) Two or three action words.

2) A couple more action words.

3) ... er... do we tell them that they are done, or does that exceed minimalism?

If we add a step that tells them where to go next, or what the options are, and if we precede the list of steps with a little bit of context-setting and explanation of _why_ they [might] need to perform the particular task, or offer some decision criteria to select between this task and a couple of other similar ones that satisfy slightly/greatly different needs.... why, we've come back to the kind of writing that I do. Not minimalist.

The only customer feedback I ever get is when:

a) the info in my docs is incorrect (rare)

b) the customers want more explanation on a given topic.




- Kevin
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Follow-Ups:

References:
Examples of Minimalist Writing: From: Janoff, Steve
Re: Examples of Minimalist Writing: From: Chris Morton

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