Saturday, April 10, 2010

Reformulate to avoid misunderstandings

Some of the best advice on technical writing that I have ever read suggested the writer try to explain their ideas in more than one way, usually through the magical phrase in other words.

The technique works by introducing your topic in one writing style, vocabulary, point of view, abstraction level, etc. and then the following sentence conveys mostly the same information, but from a different angle, using synonyms, using more/less details and/or introducing requirements or consequences of the idea. (See how I did that?)

It may seem like it is adding superfluous redundancy, but it helps avoid ambiguity and the clever use of synonyms should help make your document easier to find by search engines.  Just be careful not to overuse the technique.  In other words, some ideas are simple enough that they do not need to be restated.

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