Write to Be Understood

I’ve spent a bit of time over the past couple of months trying to determine if I have technical writing experience and how much of my background has been technical writing.

Those who have taken the time to look over my background have noted that I do actually have a lot of experience. They then feel compelled to lecture me on being a technical writer.

Initially, it bothered me. They could see from my background that I have developed a number of successful guides and training documents over the years. Why were they lecturing me on basic points of writing for others to interpret and use?

It slowly dawned on me that in nearly every case, the person was either talking to me, or reading one of my blogs. They weren’t seeing actual products I’d developed, and as a result were a bit concerned that my normal vocabulary was finding its way into my work.

The key to writing anything that you expect people to read and understand without you there to explain it is to write simply. No long complex sentences. No “SAT words” (as my tech writer friends keep telling me). Jargon should be kept to a minimum because you honestly never know what background the reader is going to have.

Your writing should be accessible to anyone in your potential audience. If you find that it isn’t, then perhaps it’s time to sit down and rework it so it is!

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