Basic Rules

Technical Writing Rules

Ask the following questions before publication. These are general guidelines and are not exhaustive.

Syntax and Voice

  • Are all important or new terms defined?
  • Are articles and pronouns omitted consistently, if applicable?
  • Are nonspecific or useless words/phrases omitted (e.g. there are, here is, it, this)?
  • Are specific verbs used?
  • Do any words have simpler possible synonyms?
  • Is passive voice used consistently, if applicable?
  • Is language as concise as possible?


  • Are optional stylistic elements (e.g. Oxford comma) used consistently?
  • Are steps punctuated consistently?
  • Is unnecessary capitalization present?


Are all steps in logical order?
Are any actions assumed in or between steps?
Do all points use parallel language?
Is each step a single action?


  • Is all text formatted correctly (e.g. font size, face, color)?
  • Is all text written according to client style guide?


  • Are all graphics large enough to be readable?
  • Are any graphics blurry?
  • Do all graphics use sufficiently high color contrast?
  • Is all secure or identifiable client/customer information blacked out?
  • Is text placed a sufficient distance from graphics?

Pre-Publication Rules

  • Was all work checked while being written?
  • Was all work checked after first draft?
  • Has a coworker or editor checked final draft?

Remember: The writer is responsible for the end product!


About Joel Wilcox

I'm a writer, photographer, visual artist, and world traveler who is also currently an academic slave (read: Graduate student). I put the (de) in the fine lines.
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