Tight Writing

In a recent talk, Joe Welinske demonstrated the example of improving a mobile application by changing just one word on the user interface. As he explains it, the value of user assistance professionals isn't that we can choose words, but that we know what the right words are to choose. Good technical communication is about knowing what the right words are, and then using then clearly and concisely.

Here's a sample of some work I did recently. The original I found wordy, to say the least:

Commitment Loader

Price program commitments can be uploaded as a set of commitments using the Upload functionality. The commitment loader allows you to load a set of new or existing commitments (PBID and non PBID) using a .csv file. An upload will be managed differently depending on the type of contract and price program. The upload functionality provides the analyst with a more productive, effective way to add price program commitments for a large number of customers instead of adding the price program individually.

Developing good user assistance means identifying what information users need and making that information easy to find. In this sample, I highlighted the important points. The original author buried the important information in a mass of words.

Here's what I changed it to:

Upload Commitments

Instead of adding them individually, you can upload a set of new or existing price program commitments (PBID and non PBID) all at once from a .csv file.

The best writing, like the best coding coding, is efficient. In this case, I cut the words by a good two-thirds and made the concept clear and easy to understand.