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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