Technical Writing For a Non-Technical Audience

Audience is King

Things to Consider When Writing for Your Audience

  • Analogies are a particularly powerful tool for communicating complex ideas. Direct the audience’s attention to real-life equivalents they will instantly recognize.
  • Language. As I already said before the language you use needs to suit the audience and purpose. You have to adjust based on the document or communication in question — and not just the jargon but the words in between. Try to keep the words between your specialist terms as simple as possible. Use mostly short, everyday words and short sentences.
  • Particularities. Any person can visualize only the concepts that are based on their own experience. Be careful with theories, concepts, issues, assumptions, ideas — they all describe something theoretical. Use concrete terms wherever possible or find parallels in tangible, everyday experiences.
  • Voice: active and passive. Be aware of the voice you use in writing since it affects tone. The active is more conversational, direct, and concise, and it’s generally easier to follow. The passive is often wordier and more formal — overuse it and your writing can become too dense and dull. But they both have their strengths so don’t rule out any. Just use them as appropriate. Be aware of the choice you’re making and the effect that has each time.
  • Use commands (especially with instructions). We all use more direct forms of address today than we used to. A good example is the use of the imperative or command form of the verb in software instructions. Consumers need simple commands like Press, Turn, Delete, Open. It means the program will do what they want when they follow these commands. Clear, direct language is the bridge between technical specialists and a non-technical audience.
  • Test your writing. Give your draft to a person with a similar level of understanding to your target audience. That person should understand what are you talking about, grasp your main message, and be able to explain it. The content shouldn’t contain any uncertainties. Your audience should get all the benefits of your expertise.

Content Manager at https://medium.com/level-up-web 👈. I write about web design, web development and technical writing. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Bradley Nice

Bradley Nice

Content Manager at https://medium.com/level-up-web 👈. I write about web design, web development and technical writing. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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