How to Write ‘Scannable’ Web Content

Need to improve your web content? How much words should I put on a web page? How do I present the material? How do I know that anyone reads it? Research suggests that users don’t read on the web –  they scan. This means that when you are converting documents to the web, you need to […]

NEW – Quality Assurance Plan Templates (MS Word + Excel)

This week we created a new set of Quality Assurance Plan Templates. I sat templates as we developed more than just the MS Word template, but sample materials, and also seven pretty slick Excel spreadsheets. If you’re involved in tech writing or software testing, I think these templates will be of real value to your Quality […]

5 Ways to Write Better Error Messages

When you write error messages for software development projects, follow these guidelines: Avoid vague wording. Give specific names and locations of the objects involved. Avoid “please.” It can be interpreted to mean that a required action is optional. Do not refer to implementation details that are invisible to the user. For example, do not refer […]

Error Messages: Do’s and Don’ts

Looking for guidelines to write better error messages? Do’s and Don’ts when writing error messages: Don’t Avoid the word “bad”. Use more descriptive terms to tell the user what is wrong. For example, avoid messages such as “Bad size”. Instead, tell the user what criteria to use when specifying a size. Avoid the word “please”. […]

How to Write Error Messages

Here’s a suggested approach to writing error messages: Create a spreadsheet. Give each error a number so you can track them. Add columns for the error message and the root cause. Establish an error message quality-control team. Create simple to follow writing guidelines for the error messages. Find best practices. Share with the team. Include […]

[How to] Write a Customization Guide

The first question is: who are you writing this customisation guide for? As a technical writer, the skill to developing a useful guide is to keep the reader in mind. Who will be reading this customisation guide? What’s the most important thing they need to know? How can I make this more helpful to them? […]

Error Messages: Mistakes to Avoid

Try to avoid the following: Anthropomorphize. Don’t suggest the software has feelings or thoughts, for example, the PC died. Instead, say, it stopped responding or is not available. Blame. Maybe the user was at fault, for example, entered text into a field meant for numbers. However, instead of saying this was wrong, bad, or illegal, […]

The Definitive Guide to Writing Error Messages

These guidelines will help you write error messages that are easy to update and useful for customers. Error messages are the first line of customer support. Poorly written error messages increase technical support costs. A well-written error message tells you, the user, the following: What has happened Why has it occurred How it impacts you, […]

User Guide Checklist

Use this checklist to write your User Guide. The checklist will help reviewers determine if the specifications meet the quality criteria and comply with development methodology requirements. Download 4 MS Word User Guide Templates General Information System Overview – introduce the system at a high-level and its relationship to others, if necessary. References – list […]

Sample Microsoft Windows Error Messages

The following is an example of error messages for Microsoft Windows XP: When you try to install a program that uses the Windows Installer in Microsoft Windows XP, the program does not install, and you may receive an error message that is similar to one of the following error messages: The Windows Installer service could […]