Tech Writing Tips

Clarity and Conciseness

Clarity and Conciseness

05/20/2021

To help ensure your writing is clear and to the point:

  • Avoid long sentences.
  • Make sure that subjects and verbs agree in number.
  • Place modifying clauses and phrases close to their objects.
  • Eliminate unnecessary words.
Sentence Structure is Important

Sentence Structure is Important

06/09/2021

  • Tell users what they’re supposed to achieve before you tell them how. For example:
    Instead of “Click OK to delete the username,” write “To delete the username, click OK.”
  • Avoid constructing sentences that begin with it is or there are.
  • Place important words in the subject, verb, and object positions.
Verb Tense

Verb Tense

07/29/2021

Follow these guidelines for verb tense:

  • Use present tense whenever possible.
  • Avoid unnecessary shifts in verb tense.
  • To indicate conditional and future situations, use future tense.

Note: To test whether you’re using other tenses correctly, always try to use present tense first.

Avoid Touchy-Feely Words

Avoid Touchy-Feely Words

08/26/2021

Avoid using words that express emotion or uncertainty. For example, instead of believe or feel, write think.

Avoid using Latin words and abbreviations and use English equivalents instead.

Avoid using Latin words and abbreviations and use English equivalents instead.

09/30/2021

Instead of:

  • e.g. consider for example
  • etc. consider a more specific item or leaving off the word etc.
  • i.e. consider that is
If, When, Whether

If, When, Whether

10/27/2021

How to use the terms if, when, and whether.

  • Use if where an event or condition might or might not occur.
  • Use when where a condition already exists or an event is certain to occur.
  • Use whether where the condition you are presenting is an alternative action or event.
Versus, vs.

Versus, vs.

11/15/2021

When possible, avoid using the Latin term versus. Instead use an alternative such as or, as opposed to, or rather than. However, if you use the term, spell it out in text and abbreviate it (vs.) in titles and table headings.

That, Which, Who

That, Which, Who

12/28/21

Follow these guidelines for referring to people:

  • Use who for individuals.
  • Use that for a group of people.
  • Avoid using which for people.