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Why Repetition Isn’t Always a Bad Thing

29th February 2012 Posted in Blog, Communication, Documentation 0 Comments

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For many who write, the first lesson you’re taught is to say what you mean in as few words as possible.  Not only does this provide clarity, but it can help create a more usable document or piece.

At the same time, when you leave out too many words, you might also leave some readers behind, especially if they’re not already familiar with the topic.

To ensure that your reader knows what you’re talking about, you need to ditch the rule of ‘less is more’ and focus on repetition.

  • Start with an introduction – This will help to summarize the key concepts of the document and the ideas that will be covered.
  • Summarize sections – With each section, be certain to review what has been covered, how the information is to be used, etc.
  • Include a final summary – In the end, have a final summary of what the overall documentation is supposed to teach, which will help to solidify the message.

While this sounds like it’s too repetitive, realize that the more that you cover the technical information, the more likely it is that the user will remember what has been taught.  In this process, the user will learn the information, not just use it as they read a document.

This technique is especially important when you are writing about a complicated topic.  The more that the information is summarized, the more opportunities the reader has to review what they are learning and the more opportunities they have for going back to the sections they might have missed during the first read-through.

Repetition is helpful, even if some English professors might turn their nose up at it.

How do you use repetition in your writings? Or do you prefer to avoid it at all costs?

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