Technical writing must be clear, consistent and concise.

The approach we prefer is minimalistic. It’s not new, but it is more and more important in today’s world of over saturation in information.

Literary minimalism

Literary minimalism is characterized by an economy with words and a focus on surface description. Minimalist writers eschew adverbs and prefer allowing context to dictate meaning. Readers are expected to take an active role in the creation of a story, to “choose sides” based on oblique hints and innuendo, rather than reacting to directions from the writer.

From :

Is this applicable to technical writing? Of course, yes.



In the realm of technical writing minimalism is used to avoid deviation from a subject, provide only the information required and not over-saturate.

This is done by establishing a set of rules in order to reduce volume and concentrate of user-orientation critical tasks. These rules are not necessarily formal, but are often formalized as an editing style guide adopted by all contributors.


Point of view – taking the right stance

To write documentation, you need to adopt the point of view of the user, understand his requirements and address them using the software in question. Most technical writers know this. Most other contributors tend to over-kill, or take a defense stance.

You don’t need to describe the objective, what the user came here to do, but how he attains it.

Using minimalism and a proper view point, the resulting documentation should be shorter, pertinent and easier to use.


Avoid redundancy

Avoid repeating words with similar meaning:

Redundancy No redundancy
Circle around Circle
Close proximity Proximity
End result Result
In the event that If
New innovations Innovations
Particular interest Interest
Refer back Refer
Summarize briefly Summarize

Phrases You Can Omit

Be on the lookout for important sounding phrases that add nothing to the meaning of a sentence. Such phrases quickly put a reader on guard that the writer is trading in puffery; worse, they put a reader to sleep.

Many but not all of these unnecessary phrases have been taken from Quick Access: Reference for Writers by Lynn Quitman Troyka. Simon & Schuster: New York. 1995. The examples, however, are our own. No political inferences should be drawn from these examples; they are merely models of form.


Avoid politeness and judgement

Terms such as the following add nothing:

please, really, quite, extremely, severely, welcome, simply, easy/hard/advanced (too subjective), desired, etc.


Use the active voice

At the heart of every good sentence is a strong, precise verb; the converse is true as well – at the core of most confusing, awkward, or wordy sentences lies a weak verb.

From the writers handbook :