Easy Reading is Damned Hard Writing

Easy reading is damned hard writing.
Nathaniel Hawthorne, writer (1804-1864)

To prepare an effective document, you must follow a good writing process. The process starts before the document is written and continues after it is completed. The process also involves more than just the writer.

  1. Plan: What is being written? Why are we writing it?
  2. Investigate: Collect information and generate ideas.
  3. Organize: Group your thoughts into a document outline.
  4. Write: Create a draft of the document in the agreed format.
  5. Review: Ask users to look at the draft document.
  6. Test: Use the document to validate it is correct and complete.
  7. Approve: Submit it for management review and approval.
  8. Train: Ensure users are trained before issuing the document.
  9. Issue: Make it available in the document control system.
10. Maintain: Revise the document to keep it valid and current.

Communications is really a simple process. It requires a sender, a receiver, and a medium for carrying the message.
However, successful communications is not always so simple.

To be successful, the receiver has to clearly understand the information being conveyed by the sender. Begin by considering what message is to be communicated to the readers.

The document needs to spell out what the user must do to ensure the process is carried out well. Give them the information necessary to perform their jobs in a quality manner.

The medium should be selected to clearly communicate your message. To convey the message in the right way, you need to understand the intended audience for the document.

You may want to send your document writers to our Quality System Documentation course. We have classes scheduled for:

December 5-6, 2002 in San Jose, CA
February 20-21, 2003 in San Diego, CA
March 20-21, 2003 in Atlanta, GA
April 24-25, 2003 in Chicago, IL
June 30 – July 1, 2003, Orlando, FL