I first wrote about this phrase back in December 2014 – “If it’s obvious prove it. If you can’t prove it, it’s not obvious“, which is one of the phrase tools I use when writing things down for others and I have been using this alot with others to help them with writing documentation and helping fill out applications.
I am republishing this blog again as it may be relevent for others, so here is the blog:
This is a phrase that I use a lot and I first came across many, many years ago from someone I previously worked with. Since then it has stuck with me.
When writing documents how often do we assume that the reader will know what we mean or understand that just because we know something is there that they do. I have seen many occasions and have fallen into the trap occasionally myself where you write about something in the manner that you know all the facts but don’t convey them.
An example of this could be a proposal or technical document;
The device has two power supplies;
- To a technical mind the instant reaction might be that this will probably be connected to two separate power supplies and backed up by generators and UPS.
- To a financial mind the instant reaction might be that this is extra cost not justified.
- To the engineer who checks the proposal – I wonder how thats going to be configured?
Where in fact the writer forgot to mention that the device was a chassis that needed two power supplies to provide enough power to all the devices placed into that chassis and is fed from one power supply.
OK – in reality you should always look for redundancy and in this example that could equal four power supplies, but this example shows how easy one statement can be misinterpreted because it was obvious to the writer and not the reader.
Just food for thought… Try running that phrase against the next document, email, CV, Application, etc that you write and put yourself in the readers place.
Hope this helps you with your writing.
Lisa Braun said:
Good one, Max! It’s all about providing context and knowing your audience.