Have you ever sent an email packed with details and been frustrated because someone didn’t digest and retain all the information? Or maybe you drafted a comprehensive design doc that no one read. There are countless scenarios where we expect colleagues to dig into our documents like they’re the next Brandon Sanderson volume. It’s disappointing when we realize our efforts aren’t appreciated but here's thing...people don’t read, they skim. Don’t blame them. Chances are you do the same thing.
Writing consumable and clear documentation requires strong editing skills. Prepare to spend as much time paring down your text as you did writing the first draft. And be prepared to talk through your ideas.
Keep documents short
Time is valuable. Show your colleagues you value their time by keeping emails and documentation clear and brief. Want to show off your writing skills, your knack for narrative and snappy dialog? Awesome, start a blog featuring your short fiction or become a contributor to Medium. You can still have some flavor in you work documentation but keep it tight. Clarity is great. So is brevity.
Format your documents
Some things, like technical documents, just need to be long. Regardless of size, think about formatting. There's nothing worse than reading an enormous block of text and wondering where is the nugget that's relevant to your job. Yes, maybe this means catering to people's decreasing attention spans and isn't that a horrible side effect of all this technology. Oh, dread. Roll with it.
Use headers, highlighted text, space between paragraphs, narrow widths and bulleted lists to help your reader.
Email sucks for conversation
Email sucks for brainstorming and the exchange of abstract ideas. If you want your emails to be read, keep them short. If you want creative exchange, talk to your collaborators, take notes and send a compact summary of decisions resulting from the conversation.