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Why simple language isn't so simple: the struggle to create plain language in documentation

Why simple language isn't so simple: the struggle to create plain language in documentation

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Introduction

In my previous post, When the pain of ignorance exceeds the pain of learning, I argued that users turn to docs only when the pain of not reading the documentation surpasses the pain of reading it. But in this state of mind (when one is impatient, angry, frustrated, high-stress), the user is least likely to absorb the material and learn.

To write for the user in this state of mind, we have to make our docs extremely simple to scan and skim. Among the techniques we can implement, embracing a simple language ranks high as a best practice. While most of us would agree that simple language is the way to go, adopting simple language is much harder in practice.

Here are a few reasons writers don’t often use simple language:

Writers don’t often realize that their sentences are hard to read
Writers don’t want to convert their beautiful prose into short, choppy sentences

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