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We are all Tech Writers Now: Three Steps to Clear Writing for the net

 Take some tips from technical writing that will make your ideas clear and persuasive in the brand new reading environment of the net. Print media puts the reader in the passenger's seat. What if you don't want a character to die? Imagine if you don't like the direction the story has had? Traditional reading is linear--you start at chapter one and you visit the end, with no detours in between. Instruction manuals have always been different. Who reads instruction manuals from beginning to end? Instead you dip involved with it, try something, and if that doesn't seem to work, flip a few pages backward or forward and try again. Now the internet has turned into a huge manual where the reader can move around at will--technology has stolen authorial control. You have to expect your readers to jump around. To be write for us technology , whatever you write for the net has to follow the same three rules that technical writers use: Write in Chunks Readers pick and choose. Recognize that your audience isn't expecting a story--they have specific goals. Points need to be self-contained and clearly marked to help them find what they're searching for and move ahead. Respect your reader's time--don't make them eat the sundae when all they want is the cherry. Follow a Structure You can structure your content by category, rank, location--but there must be a structure. By organizing your information you're giving your reader a tool that lets them find what they're looking for and skip what they don't need. If you can't look for a structure that works, it is advisable to define your points more clearly. Connect it Together You can't force your reader to follow the path you've set for them, but you can give them access to information that supports your message. Don't be afraid to link, both to resources outside your document and to pages inside it. Your role would be to help them achieve their goals; point them towards resources that help them do that. Like technical writing, the internet is about 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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