We're all Tech Writers Now: Three Steps to Clear Writing for the Web

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Take some tips from technical writing which will make your ideas clear and persuasive in the new reading environment of the net.

Print media puts the reader in the passenger's seat. Imagine if you do not want a character to die? Imagine if write for us technology don't like the direction the story has taken? Traditional reading is linear--you start at chapter one and you visit the end, with no detours in between.

Instruction manuals will always be different. Who reads instruction manuals from beginning to end? Instead you dip involved with it, try something, and when that doesn't seem to work, flip a few pages backward or forward and try again.

Now the internet has become a huge manual where in fact the reader can maneuver around at will--technology has stolen authorial control. You need to expect your readers to jump around. To reach your goals, anything you write for the web has to follow exactly the same three rules that technical writers use:

Write in Chunks

Readers pick and choose. Understand that your audience is not expecting a story--they have specific goals. Points have to be self-contained and clearly marked to greatly help them find what they're searching for and move on. Respect your reader's time--don't make sure they are eat the sundae when all they need is the cherry.

Follow a Structure

You can structure your content by category, rank, location--but there should be a structure. By organizing your details you're giving your reader a tool that lets them find what they're looking for and skip what they don't really need. If you can't find a structure that works, you must define your points more clearly.

Connect it Together

You can't force your reader to check out the road you've set for them, but you can give them access to information that supports your message. Avoid being afraid to link, both to resources outside your document and to pages inside it. Your role is to help them achieve their goals; point them towards resources that help them do that.

Like technical writing, the internet is approximately helping people find information. Adopt a number of the principals of technical writing in your own work to create it get results.
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