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Archive | Technical writing

Sans Forgetica: the font to remember

Why would anyone design a font that is deliberately difficult to read? The answer is simple: to help people retain the information they are reading. A team of designers and behavioural scientists at RMIT University has created a new font for the specific purpose of aiding memory retention. It may seem counterintuitive, but by employing […]

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Making accessible Word documents

No clear thinking organisation would deliberately exclude potential clients or customers. Yet if you aren’t providing your audience with accessible Word documents, you may be doing exactly that. For some organisations, particularly government bodies, making their information accessible is a legislative requirement. Even when it’s not, there’s significant risk of reputation damage in failing to […]

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Lessons from Ikea

As I assembled a new wardrobe last weekend in the spare-room-cum-study that is soon to be my daughter’s new bedroom, I was struck by just how simple yet effective the instructions were. Perhaps more striking was the fact that they didn’t contain a single word. This might seem like the antithesis of what a technical […]

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Don’t let the manual be an afterthought

I’ve come across a couple of events in the media recently that have served to highlight the importance of good documentation, and the significant risks of not having a clear and credible user manual. The first concerns anti-submarine torpedoes purchased by the Australian Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) from a European manufacturer. Unfortunately the highly classified […]

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Help documentation – how does this work?

Most of us are familiar with the experience of coming home with some new and exciting gadget – a phone, DVD recorder, or complicated children’s toy perhaps – only to be frustrated by the inadequacy (or even total absence) of the instructions. While some people will never read instructions unless absolutely forced to, most people […]

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