Wordiness

Subject: Wordiness
From: "Daniel E. Wise" <dewise -at- IX -dot- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 21 Jun 1996 21:59:14 -0700

Colleagues,

Interesting thread. About 30 years ago the group I managed received a
manuscript from our government client. The editor assigned to prepare
the manuscript for printing asked me whether this was a joke. It seems
she read 65 double spaced typewritten pages and found only one complete
sentence; the rest were fragments.

To keep the story short, the author was a brilliant young propellerhead
who was almost completely nonverbal. He was incapable of expressing
himself in English.

How much more do we see this today? We decry the state of literacy in
the population generally, but take the advice of a group of the most
nonverbal people on the globe concerning how to write documentation.

Heck yes they want bulleted lists, tables, etc. They may not be able
to read and comprehend straight English at a professional level.

I do agree, though, that a lot of material does lend itself to bulleted
lists, tables, flowcharts. I have found them quite useful even in
journal articles and reports in the sciences--places where, as
discussed in another thread, wordiness and polysyllabic blather
prevail.

Remember, though, "there is a time to live and a time to die." There
is also a time to shorten text and a time to hold the line.

Dan Wise
dewise -at- ix -dot- netcom -dot- com

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