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We are all Tech Writers Now: Three Steps to Clear Writing for the Web Take write for us technology from technical writing that may make your ideas clear and persuasive in the new reading environment of the web. Print media puts the reader in the passenger's seat. Imagine if you do not want a character to die? What if you don't like the direction the story has had? Traditional reading is linear--you start at chapter one and you go to the end, without detours in between. Instruction manuals will always be different. Who reads instruction manuals from beginning to end? Instead you dip into it, try something, and when 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 must expect your readers to jump around. To reach your goals, whatever you write for the web has to follow exactly 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 greatly help them find what they're looking for and move ahead. Respect your reader's time--don't make sure they are eat the sundae when all they need is the cherry. Follow a Structure You can structure your articles by category, rank, location--but there has to be a structure. By organizing your information you are giving your reader an instrument that lets them find what they're searching for and skip what they don't need. If you cannot look for a structure that works, you must define your points more clearly. Connect it Together You can't force your reader to check out the road 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 also to pages in it. Your role is to help them achieve their goals; point them towards resources that help them do that. Like technical writing, the web is approximately helping people find information. Adopt some of the principals of technical writing is likely to work to make it get results.
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