Structured writing is an approach where different components are written to fit into a larger content strategy. In this approach, the content is evaluated and different rules are applied around the structure of the document before publishing. The evaluation of the content is highly recommended for structured writing. It helps in defining the type and structure of the document. To illustrate, a user manual will be different from online help. Structuring a document helps in standardizing the content published by an organization. Therefore, with the rise in the adoption of complex technologies, businesses are rightly moving towards structured writing.
Most of the organizations have their set of guidelines to follow during structuring. However, we have curated a few common DOs and DON’Ts of structured writing which will help you in the process:
DOs of structured writing
Understand your audience
The first and foremost task as a writer is to understand the audience. When you understand your readers, it is easier to decide the type, flow, and structure of the content. This helps in designing the content of the document based on the purpose.
Simple and concise
For structured writing, the language should be concise and simple. The sentences should not convey ambiguous meanings to readers. These documents are mostly meant for public references, so it is important that the content should be kept simple and to the point.
Work on structuring
The structure of the document is the most important part as discussed above. The headings and sub-headings should ensure a smooth transition from one topic to another. In addition, depending on the length and purpose, index, glossary, etc. should be added to the document.
Proofread and review
One should never publish a document without reviewing it. It is recommended to review a document multiple times before publishing. For maintaining the quality of the document, it is better to get it reviewed by peers and SMEs.
DON’Ts of structured writing
Don’t use jargons
Jargons should be avoided in structured writing. As mentioned above, the language should be simple. Therefore, writers should avoid making the document verbose. This also helps in maintaining the accuracy of the document if there is a need for translation at a later period.
Abbreviations should be avoided as much as possible. If abbreviations are to be used, they must be specified at the first instance. To illustrate, if you are writing about NASA, specify the full form as National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) where it is used for the first time in the document. For the rest of the document, you can use ‘NASA’.
Don’t assume anything
Do not assume that the readers know a particular thing or they have the knowledge about a process. Assess the readers properly without any assumptions and work out the content based on that.
Don’t rush the content
Provide a proper conceptual explanation whenever required. The content should not seem rushed without explaining key details. The flow, coherency and accuracy of the document should be taken care of.
These pointers help in maintaining the standard and quality of the document. If there is any query or requirement, you can talk to our experts. We will be happy to help!