Tag: <span>Writing Style</span>

(note to self: stop with the jokey bad grammar, peoples might think you cant be writing good)

I’ll say this quietly because I’m a little apprehensive but, for the next few months, it looks like we will have extra resource in our team. Basically we are ahead of the curve when it comes to recruiting so, until the rest of the R&D team catches up, we are one technical writer up!

Which means that we are taking the opportunity to both get ahead with some things, and catch up on others, and one of the things we’ve never tried here is to have a formal editoral review of the content. Peer review is one thing and whilst the technical content we produce is excellent, the differing writing styles and approaches each writer has does show through.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not all that bothered by this, simple business reasoning dictated that we concentrate on improving the accuracy and timeliness of the documentation and so, now we have done that, we can turn our attentions to other areas including findability and clarity.

The latter finds me taking on the role of Editor (I want to write Editor-in-chief just to conjure up images of a smoke filled newspaper office in the 50s), casting an eye over all of the content we produce and using our lightweight Writing Style Guide to prod and cajole the content towards something that, without being too restrictive, has a level of consistency for the reader.

As we haven’t had anyone performing that role before, it’s taking a bit of adjustment and the jokes about the “red pen” are already flying. Thankfully I work with smart people and it’s not taken long to see the results come to fruition.

What we need to figure out is how we change this model in the future so that we can all consistently edit each other’s work, lest I become a bottleneck in this process.


Believe it or not, and judging by the casual way I throw punctuation around on here I wouldn’t choose to believe me either, my job requires a high degree of accuracy when it comes to punctuation and grammar et al. I’ve just been going over our internal Writing Style guidelines, and doing a little research.

As ever I started with my favourite book on style and, as ever, the paragraph below is the one that is stuck in my head. This was a man ahead of his time:

A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid detail and treat his subject only in outline, but that every word tell.

William Strunk, Elements of Style, 1919


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