Affectation in Technical Writing

Bradley Nice
Feb 27 · 3 min read

by Bradley Nice, Content Manager at ClickHelp — all-in-one help authoring tool

Affectation is the use of language that is more complicated, formal, technical, or flashy than it should be. It takes the author away from the main idea of technical writing: to communicate in a clear, simple, and understandable way. That does not contribute to creating informative and efficient documentation. Readers have to spend more time and effort to get to the sense.

That`s what can cause affectation:

  • Excessive use of professional terms, jargon, buzzwords
  • Deliberate use of suffixes and prefixes that do not bear any specific meaning (official — officialese)
  • Deliberate use of more formal and complicated words rather than simple ones
  • Excessive use of synonyms

What are the reasons for affectation in technical writing?

  • Lack of confidence the author may be unconfident in the facts, conclusions, train of thought — whatever. Affectation helps to hide it behind the ambitious words. Another thing that makes authors unconfident is their lack of experience (lack of experience in the sphere of writing in general or lack of experience in a highly specific field of writing). Affectation helps them feel more qualified and so to say protect themselves from unfavorable judgments. They try to prove that they are real professionals by using as many professional terms as possible though it may be unreasonable.
  • Impressing the reader — the author may be eager to astonish the readers, to attract their attention to the importance of the document and the theme revealed. It always negatively affects the clarity of the document. Facts, logic, and conclusions may hit readers in a more effective way.
  • Imitation of other authors` styles — we tend to imitate the people we often communicate with. That is a widely spread tendency. Do you have a specific writing style in your company? What is considered to be correct and what is not? Sometimes we use affectation without even noticing it. Choose time to analyze your style. Are you sure you cannot create documentation of high quality in a simpler manner?

Being an author makes you responsible for what and how you write. Sometimes less means more. This principle is the basic one on the way to high-quality documentation. Less words may contain more sense.

How do you avoid redundancy in writing and what is redundancy in technical writing from your point of view?


Have a nice day!

Bradley Nice, Content Manager at ClickHelp.com — best online documentation tool for SaaS vendors

Level Up!

Stories for technical writers, web developers and web designers. It's time to level up your skills!

Bradley Nice

Written by

Content Manager at https://medium.com/level-up-web 👈. I write about web design, web development and technical writing. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

Level Up!

Level Up!

Stories for technical writers, web developers and web designers. It's time to level up your skills!

More From Medium

More from Level Up!

More from Level Up!

More from Level Up!

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade