What this resource is about:

This resource offers a checklist for technical writers. It covers most of the elements that are valued and expected by readers of technical writing. 

Questions for Content and Arrangement 

Is the text targeted? 

  • Is the intended audience technical or nontechnical? 
  • Are explanations fleshed out if the audience is nontechnical? 

Is the text accurate? 

  • Have facts and data been checked by "experts"? 
  • Are theories and observations presented correctly? 

Are the text and any accompanying graphics useful? 

  • Is it clear how the target audience will use the document? 
  • Does it address the right issues and answer the right questions? 

Is the text well organized? 

  • Does the organization fit the purpose and audience? 

Is the text complete? 

  • Does the text tell the whole story using the fewest possible words? 

Is the text concise? 

  • Are words and phrases precise? 
  • What repetition or wordiness can you eliminate? 
  • What pompous language or jargon can you replace or delete? 
  • What unnecessary background information can you delete? 

Is the text clear? 

  • Are the words, sentences, and paragraphs short and simple? 
  • Are things presented one step at a time? Are visuals explained adequately? 

Is the text consistent? 

  • Are style choices consistent? 

Is the text correct? 

  • Are there errors in spelling, punctuation, or grammar? 

Is the text interesting? (Yes, this matters!) 

  • How can you make it more appealing to the reader? 


Questions for Styleand Execution 

Does the text follow the basic principles of Tech Writing? 

  • Employs active voice more than passive voice 
  • Uses simple language 
  • Uses meaningful visuals 
  • Uses present tense except when reporting experimental work and results 
  • Matches readers' technical understanding 
  • Breaks writing into short sections 

Does the text use correct punctuation? 

  • Hyphenates compound adjectives 
  • Hyphenates multiple nouns that express a single idea 
  • Uses a comma between each item in a series 
  • Eliminates punctuation inside parentheses unless a complete sentence 

Does the text follow appropriate grammar principles? 

  • Avoids run-on sentences 
  • Avoids sentence fragments 

Does the text use abbreviations and capitalization correctly? 

  • Spells out abbreviations for the first use 
  • Doesn't use periods for acronyms 
  • Capitalizes proper nouns 

Does the text use numbers correctly? 

  • Writes out numbers below 10 (i.e. five) 
  • Writes numbers above 10 as numerals (i.e. 21) 
  • Displays decimals consistently, especially when in columns, rows, or groups 
  • Doesn't start sentences with numerals 

Does the text use units of measurement correctly? 

  • Uses the correct units of measurement 
  • Writes out the unit for a single quantity 

Does the text use equations correctly? 

  • Uses equations minimally 
  • Centers and numbers equations
  • Inserts equations as if they were phrases

Does the text use symbols correctly?(+*/$%&) 

  • Indicates multiplication with asterisk 
  • Indicates division with a slash 
  • Fits symbols grammatically into sentences