Category Archives: Style Guide

Serial comma (Oxford comma)

  Commas seem to cause a lot of dismay among writers and subs generally. Their purpose, how they work, where to place them seems to cause unending consternation. I think that might be one reason there is some hostility to … Continue reading

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My plain English might not be your plain English

There are a lot of words that are known to only specialists and can make non-specialists feel like outsiders. The Plain English Campaign in the UK and its sister organisations in other countries tries to confront the problem of specialist … Continue reading

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Latin abbreviations in technical writing

Many style guides as well as simplified English and plain English campaigners share a common goal of wanting to eradicate Latin loan-words from English, and this includes Latin abbreviations. This post from a 2012 entry on ferswriteshoe blog is nice … Continue reading

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Shall vs. Will

In an earlier post, one in which I was trying to be funny, I mentioned shall or indeed, shalt, as a sign that god was a technical writer. But, when do you use shall or will? What is the difference? … Continue reading

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Killing interest in your documentation and how to fix it

Imagine you are sitting on a train and looking out the window. The landscape you are passing through is flat and brown; fields at the bordering time of year between winter and spring. One field looks like another, with electrical … Continue reading

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Fear and loathing in documentation

Oftentimes, it feels as if technical writers are fighting a losing battle with their own mindset. The mind, by degrees of cultural fine-tuning and millions of years of evolution, is hard-wired to find the best method of communicating for any … Continue reading

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Passive voice in tech writing

Use the active voice¬†and never¬†use the passive voice, ever! Does this sound familiar to tech writers? It is written into style guides, it is in Strunk and White (and Geoffrey K. Pullum does a nice critique of it that I … Continue reading

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