DEV Community

Valeria writes docs
Valeria writes docs

Posted on

Creating Standout Documentation: The Six C's of Technical Writing Excellence

Clear, concise, complete, consistent, correct, and consumable: these six critical attributes elevate technical documentation from average to outstanding. Their role is paramount to achieve the ultimate goal of technical documentation which is to transfer knowledge so that readers learn to use your product with the least amount of friction. By incorporating the "Six C's" into your writing process, you can develop high-quality documentation that users will continually reference. Let's explore the significance of each element.


At its core, exceptional documentation articulates even complex information with clarity. Succinct sentences and defined technical terms pave the way for understanding. Procedures are explained with unambiguous language, detailing concrete actions and ordered steps. Images complement the text, providing visual reinforcement where valuable. This emphasis on clarity allows users to find solutions quickly, bypassing dense and cumbersome passages.


Fluff finds no home in concise documentation. It delivers the precise amount of information readers require – no more, no less. Strong verbs and streamlined sentences eliminate redundancy, ensuring efficient information absorption. This focus on conciseness empowers users to extract knowledge in less time, saving them from navigating verbose and distracting content.


Truly exceptional documentation leaves no information gap.It meticulously incorporates every step, contingency, note, and resource that users might need. To achieve this level of completeness, extensive testing is crucial, uncovering any missing pieces and ensuring a comprehensive user experience. Complete documentation empowers users to achieve their goals with confidence and independence.


Consistent formatting fosters intuitive usability by establishing recognizable patterns. Uniformity becomes the hallmark, evident across headers, images, cautions, notes, and numbered lists. Tone and terminology remain aligned, building a cohesive experience. Leverage a style guide, whether your organization's own or a publicly available one like the Google Developer Documentation Style Guide or GitLab Documentation Style Guide, to ensure consistency across your documentation. This consistency fosters understanding while minimizing confusion, guiding users effortlessly through the information landscape.


Accuracy is the cornerstone of trust in documentation. Double-checking facts and meticulously testing instructions are paramount to ensuring correctness. Verify that each step in your procedures produces the documented result. In a world rife with misinformation, accuracy signifies respect for users' time and expertise. It also prevents product misuse arising from erroneous instructions, building trust and confidence in your product.


Consumable documentation removes accessibility barriers, making it available to all users. This includes incorporating text alternatives for images, ensuring sufficient color contrast, optimizing for various platforms, and employing plain language. Semantic HTML tags enable screen readers to effectively interpret and communicate the content. Additionally, metadata and keywords enhance search functionality, making your documentation easily discoverable. By monitoring user behavior on your documentation website, you can further refine its accessibility and usability.


By integrating the Six C's into your technical writing, you elevate the effectiveness of your documentation to a new level. Users receive the precise support they need to wield your product with confidence and competence. In turn, organizations benefit from efficient knowledge transfer and a more empowered user base. Make the Six C's your documentation blueprint, and watch your user experience flourish.

Top comments (0)