What is fluff? How do we cut the fluff?
Everything I learned about fluff, I learned from Leah Guren and the Technical Editing SIG.*
What is fluff?
- unnecessary or overcomplicated words
- academic writing
- vague instructions
- complex sentence structure
- unnecessary information
- historical background
- too many options
So what? Why should we care?
We want to help the user
- find content they need quickly.
- understand the content.
- use the content.
What happens when our user or customer can’t follow the instructions?
- They call tech support. Increased demand on tech support staff can cost the company money.
- They look for another product, possibly by your competitor. This leads to a potential loss of customer loyalty.
- Company SMEs and TCs need to re-edit the instructions. Staff involved in long editing cycles take them away from other projects (loss of human resources) and can cost the company money.
What’s the solution?
Before you write, ask yourself/your team: What does the user need to know?
Cut the fluff!
- Use short simple text.
- Write in active voice.
- Remove misdirected content.
- Change blocks of text into tables.
- Write concisely.
- Insert graphics with alt text.
- Place reference material and historical information in appendices.
- Create a tutorial.
Yoel Strimling says
Tickets are available for the recording here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/editing-for-leaner-modern-content-recording-tickets-416018381177