Matthew Arnold Stern -- Writer and Speaker Buy Offline today! Click here
Skip to the article

Technical Writing Tip:
Be Consistent

In technical writing, it is essential that we use terminology and labeling consistently throughout the documentation and the product. Consistency makes the documentation and product easier for users to understand and makes the documentation and interface easier to translate.

Some of the ways you can make the documentation and product more consistent include the following:

  • Develop a standard glossary of terms for your product. You can use this as the basis for your glossary for translation. You should also work with the engineers to make sure the terminology they use in the product is consistent as well.
  • If more than one term can be used for an item, choose and stick with one. You mention the alternate terms when you first describe the item, as in this example: "You can use shortcut keys (which are also called accelerator keys) to start commonly used commands." From that point, however, you should only use the term "shortcut keys." You might also want to list the synonyms in the index.
  • Use terms that match what is in the product. If a menu option is abbreviated in the program, use the same abbreviation in your manual. You can spell out the name in your description of the option in the manual.
  • Work with engineers to make sure they use terms consistently. Show engineers that consistency makes their products easy for them to use and to update and maintain later.

Related Topics

Technical Writing Tips


Creative Writing Tips

Communication Tips


Society of Technical Communication (STC)

Orange County STC

Sharon Burton-Hardin
Add to My Yahoo!
Matthew Arnold Stern
bio | articles
Subscribe to the Matthew Arnold Stern Newsletter

Powered by AuthorsDen
Google Entire Internet


Hosted by 1&1