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Bravo!!! It's been a long time and I've forgotten the names of the
indices, etc. And yes, as I began defending myself, I've said I'm not
condescending. It's the readability, not the "Run, Sally, run!"
Again... Thank you.
I'm going to curl up under my desk in the fetal position now for awhile.
From: techwr-l-bounces+mschmidt=weathercentral -dot- tv -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+mschmidt=weathercentral -dot- tv -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com]
On Behalf Of Laura Lemay
Sent: Wednesday, August 09, 2006 1:31 PM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- c
Subject: Re: Breaking into the tech writing job market
>> Something we have a lot of in our audiences. If you remember your
>> basic intro to tech writing classes, they tell you to write at about
>> a 6th grade level.
> I think that's a very condescending and obnoxious thing to say. And
> it's probably a root cause of the "users is soooooo stupid" attitude
> that makes a lot of engineers and tech writers unbearable, IMO.
Whoa, whoa WHOA whoa whoa.
As Mike explained in another thread, writing to a sixth grade level
does not mean dumbing down your writing or talking down to the user.
This is a specific term that refers to any number of readability indices
(Flesch-Kincaid, Fog, Fry), which are scientific algorithms for
determining the how easy it is to read a piece of text. Here are some
In general the readability score of a piece of text is based on
syllable, sentence and word length. A higher score for reading level
(10th grade or higher) means that a piece of text is more difficult to
read. It does not mean that a higher scoring text is better than
a lower-scoring text written at a lower reader level. Hemingway
wrote at a fourth grade reading level.
When we as tech writers aim for a sxith grade reading level it just
means we should be writing short, declarative sentences; that we are
writing plainly and clearly; that we are using active voice, and that
we are avoiding jargon or complex language our audience will not
understand. Those basic rules apply regardless of complexity of the
subject or sophistication of the audience.
This is the composition and rhetoric part of technical writing.
Perhaps its time to re-read Elements of Style.
omit needless words
Laura Lemay Killer of Trees lemay % lne.com lemay % gmail.com http://www.lauralemay.comhttp://blog.lauralemay.com