10 IssuesTo Avoid For Better Documents

Sections of this topic
    1. Not knowing your audience and stakeholders – not knowing your audience could mean not only presenting unnecessary and non-essential information, but possibly also presenting it in a manner that the audience does not understand. If a document presents unfamiliar or foreign terms to the audience, then the material is not helpful nor constructive.
    2. Ignoring your SMES – find your SME’s (Subject Matter Experts) – listen to them and find out any information you need to complete your documents correctly. Not gathering the right information and not paying attention to updates is not an option. Any misguided information can be disastrous to your audience.
    3. Not preserving privacy – not understanding nor maintaining confidentiality of information can be detrimental to an organization. Make sure you know which material has to be handled with discretion.
    4. Lacking organization – stay organized, methodical, and in control. This will help you keep your documents organized as well. Make sure there is some logical order to the material as a whole. Do the same within each section of the document. Provide indexes and a table of contents so that pieces of information can be easily located.
    5. Underestimating time – not estimating the right amount of time for writing can make you rush and produce a sloppy document.
    6. Not being consistent – too many styles and fonts can be confusing for the reader and be visually tiring to the eyes, respectively. You want them to see and absorb the information; not ignore it because it is visually unappealing. Also, be consistent in writing and in how you present your information. The same goes for images and pictures as well – label figures consistently so they can be easily located and followed.
    7. Ignoring comments or feedback – do not ignore any comments regarding your writing and presentation. Listen and understand what they are saying to you. They are only trying to help make a more useful and better document. The suggestions may help to provide better readability, flow, or layout.
    8. Being too verbose – documents provide a clear and precise presentation – the audience does not determine if the document is good or bad by the number of words that are written. Write what is needed.
    9. Lacking images – provide images whenever they are needed to enhance what is written; these are especially needed when giving instructions to perform a crucial task. When describing a whole system, create a system with a top image and then break it down to the most basic components – like a hierarchy.
    10. Most importantly not creating backups – forgetting or not creating backups is a disaster to everyone; especially the creator. Make sure you add it to your checklist as one of the essential items to do. Not only is it tiring and frustrating to recreate your work, but it never is the same as the original that was created.

    What other fundamentals should be avoided when creating documents?