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How to Write Clearly

How to Write Clearly

ADVICE TO HELP YOU WRITE CLEARLY AND CONCISELY

BLOG BY NICK WRIGHT of EDITORSOFTWARE.COM

 

Try using StyleWriter 4 today

Monday, August 01, 2011 - Page 6 of 6

How to write a technical report

Keep technical terms to a minimum.

Although a specialist technical vocabulary is necessary, don’t let this be an excuse to use the technical word unthinkingly. For example, in a desktop publishing manual you could use the terms folio, recto and verso. But why? The simpler page or page number (folio), right-hand page (recto) and left-hand page (verso) are easier for the reader to follow.

Use examples and illustrations.

When you write up your technical information, remember to use examples, illustrations and analogies to explain difficult information or new ideas. For example:

The operating system of your computer is like the bridge a ship, the control center for everything that happens on your machine.

A simple example or illustration can go a long way to making technical writing understandable.

Use diagrams, flowcharts and graphs.

The cliché a picture is worth a thousand words is true. A good diagram, flowchart or graph can present information quickly that would take ten sentences to explain. Click here to see a diagram showing the a car's clutch. Such a diagram makes any explanation or technical description far easier to understand.

Use good layout to draw attention to key technical information.

Good layout can help guide readers to key information. For example, when writing instructions you want the reader to take in numbered bold statements. Here's an example of good layout and diagrams making it easy to find your way in a set of instructions.

Changing Text

Replace on the Find Menu lets you to find text and replace it with new text. You can find and change all occurrences of the text automatically, or you can decide whether to change each occurrence as the program finds it.

To find and select text

1. Place the cursor where you want to start your search.
If you want to make changes to only part of the document, select that part first.

2. Choose Replace from the Find menu.

Changing Text

3. Type the text you want to find in the Find What box.

4. Type the text you want to replace it with in the Replace box.

Select Match Whole Word Only if you want to find whole words only.
Select Match Case if you want to search for words with exact capitalization.

5. Click on Find Next, Replace, or Replace All to start the search.

6. Click the Cancel button or OK to end.

Changing Text

 

Test your document with the intended readers.

For many technical documents you need to test them on the intended readers. Show users instructions and get them to carry them out. Rework any area where users slowed down. Rethink, redesign and rewrite any area that confused users. Make sure all users can go from the start of each instruction to the end without faltering.

Such testing on readers will show up ways to improve documents that even the best technical writers would have missed.

 

 

 

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