If you’re responsible for creating help or training content, content clarity is key. You know you’re trying to achieve something very specific with your writing: You want to make it as easy as possible for your readers to understand and recall the information. The idea is that they should then be able to apply what they’ve learned to any number of tasks.
Sounds easy enough, but it doesn’t always work that way. After all, who hasn’t come across a manual or a set of directions like the one below? Not only is it convoluted and full of jargon, the relatively easy task it describes becomes confusing and difficult to perform.
Am I Being Clear?
Clarity is important for any content you create, especially when it’s designed to help or educate an audience. It’s critical that both you and your audience understand the content you’ve written.
To help with content clarity, keep the following tips in mind:
1. Always explain any terminology you use that isn’t common knowledge. Also, if there’s a way to communicate the same idea without using jargon, that’s probably the better way to go. Remember, the goal is to make your content as easy to understand and retain as possible.
2. If you’re using acronyms, make sure that you always spell them out on first reference. This will benefit anyone who’s not familiar with them.
3. Streamline your writing by using simpler words and shorter sentences and paragraphs. To do so, you’ll have to edit your content diligently, removing all of the excess verbiage that you don’t actually need.
4. Make the content easy to scan by using headings and bulleted lists. This will help direct readers to key points and break up the monotony of long passages of text. For longer documents, consider also including a table of contents to give readers an overview of the content in a single glance.
5. Write in an active voice. Assigning an actor to every action will help make your writing much clearer by eliminating ambiguity and clearly designating who is performing each activity.
By following tips like these, you’ll be able to write help and training content that’s easier for people to understand and learn from. As with any kind of writing, it’s a skill you can develop over time with a lot of practice.
A content optimization platform like Acrolinx can also help by reading your content and analyzing it across a variety of dimensions, including clarity. It can then offer you practical guidance, so you can make your content clearer and easier to read.
If content clarity matters to you, it’s definitely something worth considering.