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Letting go of the little things

  1. Letting Go of the Little Things Editing for the big picture. Leah Guren Cow TC © 2015 Leah Guren
  2. Agenda  What’s it all about?  Back to basics  What to leave out  Cut, clarify, and refine  Finding creative solutions  Conclusion and discussion
  3. What’s it all about?  Many people focus on proofreading:  punctuation and spelling  some rewriting for clarity  The problem is that nicely-written content can still fail if it is:  wrong for target audience  illogical, unnecessary, or not useful  But big-picture editing is difficult because you have to:  use your brains, logic, and research skills  take initiative  be fearless
  4. Back to basics!  What is the document purpose?  Who is the audience?  What info do they need?  How does the doc fit in the overall strategy?
  5. A Case Study Document: manual for a medical device Intended audience: nurses and doctors Contained: patient-facing info
  6. What to Leave Out Let it goat go!
  7. Consider the learning curve.  Users often have a short, steep learning curve.  If you focus on the novice experience, you skew the shelf-life.  Solution: strip novice info into a tutorial or Getting Started topic.
  8. Consider natural exploration.  User discovery is fine for non-critical info.  Ask:  can they get by without this info?  do they need it right now?  Solution: allow users to explore and discover on their own. I am on a UI adventure!
  9. Drop redundancy.  Avoid excess repetition.  Avoid multiple methods.  Solution: determine the best way the user would perform an action.
  10. Skip low-probability actions.  Avoid odd-ball tasks.  Solution: write an application note.  Discussion: what about mystery legacy content? How to make cottage cheese before milking.
  11. Cut, Clarify, and Refine You’ve got this!
  12. Remove fluff.  Extra words and empty phrases.  Pompous or overly-formal writing.  Solution: restate in simplest form. Flufffffffy!
  13. Purge ambiguity.  If it is open to interpretation, it is wrong.  Watch vague modifiers.  Solution: rewrite to avoid any confusion. I thought it was cheesy.
  14. Refine.  Once the meaning is clear and simple, rewrite for style.  Test.  Solution: try several iterations. Quality takes effort and practice.
  15. Find Creative Solutions Shift your focus!
  16. Take a different approach.  Replace words with a graphic.  Try a flowchart instead of a text-based procedure.  Place content in the UI.  Solution: get away from your desk and oxygenate your brain.  Exercise
  17. Conclusion and Discussion  Rethink the scope of your TC role.  Consider what you can leave out.  Cut, clarify, and refine.  Find creative solutions.  What’s your best tip?
  18. Thank you! Leah Guren Cow TC technical communication training & consulting tel: (+972) 54-485-3473 email: website: A butter approach to TC…