After many years of blogging, and consistent with my desire to move toward retirement, we have ended the Insights blog. Thanks to Doug Bedell for his years of blog support.

‘Twitter Thinking’ in Tech Writing

Posted on July 26, 2013
Filed Under Communication, Technology, The Writing Life | Leave a Comment

imgresMy Encore colleague (and proprietor), Dennis Owen, has come up with a neat concept to trim up technical writing – apply a little “Twitter technique” to documentation. Twitter on documents? Come on…but wait, what’s he getting at?

“Yesterday I was editing a procedure from one of my colleagues (at a company Dennis is currently working at) and he had some bullets in a long list of an organization’s responsibilities, like:

Some might say this is  trim enough. But wait, if we give the list a “Twitter touch,” here’s what Dennis suggests it might look like:

This is what an old city editor of mine would have called “tight writing,” and it’s a definite improvement in reading efficiency. But who has a city editor anymore? Instead, a Twitter-like technique is worth keeping in mind. Yes, a character count, figuratively speaking. There are 129 characters (or so) in the first list and 62 (or so) in the second. Both are within Twitter’s 140-character limit, but which is more efficient to read, and probably remember? Clearly, the second.

We’re not recommending that you count the characters in everything you write – that would be daunting. But if you picture yourself as tweeting, rather than merely writing, maybe my old city editor enters your ken, and that would be a blessing, indeed!  Over time, your writing will be immeasurably improved – that is, will become clearer and more efficient to read.

So, the next time you tackle a technical document, get up there on a power line and tweet on! Your writing and, your readers’ grasp of  whatever procedure is involved, will be energized. Truly. – Doug Bedell


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