Your guide to turning a technical piece into something that is easily accessible by a wide audience. It is always good to take a step back and consider what you do and change how you do things for the better.

It is important that your message is understood by all.

Communication is more than just words. You can help give people information about the use of colours, icons, diagrams, and other visual attributes.

Understand your audience

How are you going to pitch your writing? What is their level of education? Are they well versed in a particular topic? Are they used to reading the type of document that you are writing?

What is their purpose and motivation? Why are they seeking information? How motivated will they be to read more?

How much detail do they really need? Do they want to know everything or do they need the key points to make a decision? Are they interested in the full report or do they want the executive summary?

What are their reading habits? Some people are busy running a business or being by distracting by various people. Some people have the time to take in complex and technical information. Some people are inundated with different forms of communication, such as emails, phone calls, an open office, or a home office.

Give your reader exactly what they need! No more, no less. The reader should not have to work hard.

Tips on word use

  • Remove extra words that do not add meaning
  • Use shorter sentences
  • Use simpler words - explain jargon if you need to use it
  • Add paragraph breaks to improve the ratio of words to white space
  • Avoid repetition
  • Use the same word to mean the same thing to avoid confusion
  • Avoid referring to something as 'it' or 'they', such as 'It will influence the presence of' - what is 'it'?
  • Make phrases concise. For example, "we undertook an investigation of" could read "we investigated", or "the utilisation of the building by .... was studied" could read "Building use was studied"

Format of your document

  • Use headings to highlight the key points
  • Think about white space - make it visually clutter-free
  • Exchange words for visuals - a picture is worth 1000 words
  • Think about spacing between sentences

Types of visual elements

  • Infographics
  • Organisation charts
  • Maps
  • Workflows
  • Charts/graphs

When to use visual elements

  • To explain new concepts
  • To make a survey design visual
  • To explain a process

Useful links: