2 min read

The 7 Cs of Technical Writing

The 7 Cs of Technical Writing

Key Takeaways:

  • The 7 Cs of Technical Writing help you communicate more effectively in technical documents and UX content.
  • The 7 Cs stand for: clear, concise, concrete, correct, coherent, complete, and courteous.
  • Use the 7 Cs as a checklist for your technical documentation, user manuals, and UX copy.

Clear and effective communication is crucial in technical writing and UX content creation. The 7 Cs of Technical Writing provide a checklist for ensuring that your documentation, manuals, and interface copy are well-constructed and easily understood by your audience.

What Are the 7 Cs of Effective Technical Writing?

According to the 7 Cs, technical writing needs to be:

  1. Clear
  2. Concise
  3. Concrete
  4. Correct
  5. Coherent
  6. Complete
  7. Courteous

Clear

When writing technical documentation or UX copy, be clear about your goal or message. What information are you trying to convey to the user? Minimize the number of ideas in each sentence and make it easy for the reader to understand your meaning.

Bad Example: "The system utilizes advanced algorithms to process data and output results based on user-defined parameters and pre-set configurations."

Good Example: "The system processes data using algorithms. It generates results based on:

  1. Parameters you set
  2. Pre-configured settings"

Concise

In technical writing, being concise means sticking to the point and keeping it brief. Users don't want to read six sentences when you could communicate your message in three.

Bad Example: "To initiate the program, you need to click on the icon that looks like a gear, which is typically located in the top right corner of the screen. Once you've clicked on it, a drop-down menu will appear with various options. From these options, you should select 'Start Program' to begin."

Good Example: "To start the program:

  1. Click the gear icon in the top right corner.
  2. Select 'Start Program' from the drop-down menu."

Concrete

Concrete technical writing gives the audience a clear picture of what you're explaining. Use specific details and examples.

Bad Example: "The software offers various data visualization options."

Good Example: "The software offers five data visualization options: bar charts, line graphs, pie charts, scatter plots, and heat maps."

Correct

Ensure your technical writing is error-free and accurate. Double-check all facts, figures, and technical terms.

Bad Example: "Enter you're username and password in the feilds provided."

Good Example: "Enter your username and password in the fields provided."

Bad Example: "The system uses an HTTP protocol to encrypt the data."

Good Example: "The system uses HTTPS to encrypt the data."

Coherent

For coherent technical writing, all points are connected and relevant to the main topic, and the flow of information is logical.

Bad Example: "To reset your password, click on 'Forgot Password'. Our system uses 256-bit encryption for security. Enter your email address to receive a reset link."

Good Example: "To reset your password:

  1. Click on 'Forgot Password'
  2. Enter your email address
  3. Click 'Send Reset Link'
  4. Check your email for the password reset link"

Complete

In complete technical writing, the audience has all the information they need to understand and take action.

Bad Example: "Update your software to the latest version."

Good Example: "Update your software to version 2.1.3:

  1. Go to Settings > Software Update
  2. Click 'Check for Updates'
  3. If an update is available, click 'Download and Install'
  4. Restart your device when prompted"

Courteous

Even in technical writing, maintain a friendly and helpful tone. Be empathetic to the user's needs and potential frustrations.

Bad Example: "If you can't figure out how to use this feature, consult the manual."

Good Example: "Need help with this feature? Our user manual provides step-by-step instructions. You can find it under the 'Help' menu or contact our support team for assistance."

By applying these 7 Cs in your technical writing and UX content, you can create clear, user-friendly documentation and interface copy that guides your audience through complex information or processes.

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