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Reducing the complexity of technical language (new article in Simplifying Complexity series)

by Tom Johnson on Jul 11, 2018 •
categories: simplifying-complexity podcasts

I added a new article in my ongoing series about simplifying complexity. The article is called Reducing the complexity of technical language and explores reasons why the language in technical documentation tends become so full of jargon and other unfamiliar terms, and a few solutions for simplifying the language. I emphasize the need to read the competitor's documentation and other articles in the industry to get a sense of the right terms and contexts that users likely expect. I also decided to read the article for those who prefer podcasts.

Here’s a summary:

Highly technical material often becomes incomprehensible due to the unfamiliar terminology that’s simply part of the technical domain. Readers who don’t already speak the technical language in fluent ways will struggle to make sense of the material. To make these highly technical texts more accessible to users of all levels, you can create glossaries, embed definitions in tooltips, provide links for background knowledge, and more. As you define your terms, it’s helpful to read beyond your company’s content and check out how the same terms are used in your competitor’s documentation and industry articles. As you become more aware of terms and their definitions, you will be more precise and careful with language in your documentation.

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer / API doc specialist based in the Seattle area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture, writing techniques, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out simplifying complexity and API documentation for some deep dives into these topics. If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the field, be sure to subscribe to email updates. You can also learn more about me or contact me.

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