Thursday, October 06, 2005

Best Practices

I am compiling a style guide for my shiny new publications department (as a Wiki!). Part of that style guide is a list of "Best Practices," which for me resolves to a "must-do," "don't-do" list. The faithful reader is encouraged to submit additions.

== 10 Things You Must / Must Not Do ==

  1. Always ask yourself, “How will this read to outsiders.”
  2. Never assume your document will be read only by people for whom it was intended.
  3. Always use the styles, templates, and font families specified by Publications and Marketing that provide a consistent “corporate voice.”
  4. Never invent a new style for a single document.
  5. Refer to the Style Guide. The Style Guide is your friend. It saves you from having to make a dozen nit-picky decisions every day.
  6. Never attempt humor in corporate documents. When humor misfires, it makes everyone look a chump. (“Dying is easy, comedy is hard.” -the last words of Sir Donald Wolfit, British actor and director)
  7. Prefer the active voice.
  8. Don’t count on mechanical tools to relieve you of the burden of proofreading your document for sense and correct usage. If machines could write, they would already have your job.
  9. If possible, set a piece of writing aside for a short period before proofing—this separates you from the “heat of composition.”
  10. Remember that there is always one more typo.


Taleena said...

When in Doubt crack Elements of Style and remove all doubt.

WhidbeyIslander said...

Alas. This is not English, this is Technical Writing. The rules are much more picky. Such as:

Do you include a comma in the penultimate element of a series contained in a sentence?


Do you describe a screen action as "drag and drop" or just "drag"?

The fact that I can deal with this stuff, indeed, that I have been put in charge of this stuff, must cause those that have never experienced my obsessive-compulsive side to scratch their heads in wonder.

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