9 Essential Rules for Writing User Documentation

  1. Identify your audience.
    Identify the average person who will be using each piece of your documentation, and write for their experience level.  Not your level of experience, but theirs.
  2. The purpose
    Write down why your average user would need to use your documentation.
    User documentation is designed to help the user to do something.
  3. Name it
    Create titles for each of your documentation pieces.
  4. Plan, create a:
    * table of Contents for each piece of documentation
    * estimate of number of the number of pages per document section
    * sample layout of your document
  5. Writing
    Create the first draft as quickly as you can.
    Do not get hung-up on spelling/grammar/”look and feel” at this stage.
  6. Editing
    Start only when you have finished writing.
  7. Proofreading
    Only when you think it is finished, ship it out for proofreading and reviewing.
  8. Printing
    Get it out the door.  There will always be one more tweak.
    Resist the urge to make it perfect, instead, get it published.
  9. Maintenance
    Set review dates for your documentation.
    If your documentation is not being used, don’t keep working on it.

My next documentation post on Tuesday, will discuss the Four Key Pillars of Writing User Documentation.

Bookmark and Share

Comments are closed.