Monthly Archives: January 2014

Ditch the Sales Pitch (My Latest STC Post)

In my latest STC column, I explain how to transform marketing muck into a user’s utopia. Enjoy!

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Adversarial Adverbs

Ah, the humble adverb. Writers use adverbs to emphasize a point, deepen a sentiment, refine an action. The problem is, adverbs do just the opposite. Consider this sentence. “I am truly sorry.” The adverb “truly” qualifies “sorry.” The listener’s obvious question is, “As opposed to not being truly sorry?” Adverbs rob good words of their power. Or how about, “I quickly ran to the store.” “Quickly” qualifies “run.” But “quick” is a property of the verb “run.” After all, you don’t run anywhere slowly. Adverbs often harbor redundancies. My freshman English teacher taught me and my classmates something wonderful about adverbs: They can be made useless. In a vocabulary lesson, …

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Adopt the User’s Perspective

Learn to see what your users see. Read my latest post on the STC’s blog “Notebook”: http://notebook.stc.org/plainly-speaking-adopt-the-users-perspective/

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A New Year, a New U(ser’s Guide)

This is not a blog about writing. I feel compelled to say that because so many people hear “plain language” and think “text” or “words.” But I’ve studied plain language in technical communication for several years now, and so I know that using plain language in documentation begins long before we sit down at our keyboards to write. Instead, the journey to the clear, readable documentation the plain-language approach delivers to a product’s users begins the day we say, “How does my user see this product? What does the user need to know?” In other words… The day we say, “I am the user’s mentor, not the company’s mouthpiece,” we …

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