The 5 Cs Of Writing

  • Added:
    Sep 04, 2014
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The 5 Cs Of Writing Photo by Delnaz Edulji

No two writers can write the exact same words… unless it’s copied of course! It is different for writers – each writer has their own style and thought process. With each piece, not only do the writers have to bring something new to the table, but also ensure that the content is delivered in the most effective way. Technical Writing is stricter in the usage of words and style of writing.
Since there are very few courses and companies providing technical writing services in India, not may are aware of the writing rules to follow for technical publications. One of the most important one being – following the 5 Cs of writing – Correct, Clear, Concise, Cohesive and Complete.
Even if you are someone with a signature message reflecting in all your content, these are a few basic foundations for a good write-up that you must follow.

Correct
No matter what your style is, readers may get put off with your improper use of words, grammatical mistakes and false appearance of any information. Do some research and use the correct terms.  If there are numbers in your content, be sure of their legitimacy. Overall, bow-down to the established norms of the language. There are no negotiations here. Correctness involves not just grammatical and proper punctuation, but also technical accuracy.

Example:
Incorrect

1) Open Microsoft Word 2010.
2) Click the File tab.


There is no File tab in MS Word 2010. The file tab exists for Word 2013.

Correct

1) Open Microsoft Word 2010.
2) Click the Microsoft Office button.

OR

1) Open Microsoft Word 2013.
2) Click the File tab.

Clear
Even if targeted at a niche audience, you’ll need to write legibly.  Make sure that even the broadest populace of your readers can understand the message, and choose the words wisely that will accomplish this task. Word choice is significant. Imprecise terms can obstruct the attempts to convey your thoughts properly. Effective syntax is thus essential.
Example:
Incorrect

• Enter the admin users - make sure it is blank.

• If you can add multiple under the users, for click ‘Add users’ and fill details.

Correct

• Ensure that the Admin Users field is blank.

• If you want to add multiple sub users under the Users menu, click Add Users and fill the details.

Concise
Being a writer is basically to find the best method of expressing oneself and to do so you need to be economical with your word usage. You don’t need redundancies in your text. Be sure not to stray away from the main topic. You can take out unnecessary words and divert your energy to those few, which you think may get imprinted onto the reader’s mind. It is always easier to read a 100 page document v/s a 150 page document saying the same thing!
Example:
Incorrect

• In order to print, click on the Print button. You need to click on Print to start printing.

• If you are a person who loves to have friends, then you are a person who is an extrovert.
Correct

• To start printing, click on the Print button.


• If you are a friendly person, then you are an extrovert.

Cohesive
As you lay down the words, make sure that every word reflects the essence of the message. The ideas should flow effortlessly through the piece. When you need to change a topic, connect the two sections to make a smooth transition. This would be easy if you can outline your plan and arrange the key ideas beforehand.  Thus, logical movement from one idea to the next is indispensable.
Example:
Incorrect

As you know, MS Word provides you with multiple formatting options. To print a document, press Ctrl+P.
Correct

You have learnt in the earlier chapters about the various formatting options provided by MS Word. After you have entered and formatted all the text, you can print the file to create a hard copy of the document.

You can print a document from the File tab or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+P.


Complete
Remember – “No information is better than half information”. The content is your creation and you need to observe a type of discipline to keep all things together. Ensure that you complete the topic or procedure before jumping on to the next topic. Providing half information can be frustrating to the reader and sometimes even dangerous.
Example:
Incorrect

1. In the Registry Editor, go to: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\14.0\Word.
2. Delete the Data key.
Your problem is solved! Correct

To resolve the problem:
1. Close Microsoft Word 2013.
2. Click Start and type regedit in the Start Search text box.
3. Press the Enter key. A confirmation message appears.
4. Click the Continue button. The 'Registry Editor' window appears.
5. Go to: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\14.0\Word.
6. Select the Data key and press Delete. A confirmation message appears.
Warning! Deleting an incorrect entry may cause the computer to crash.
7. Click OK.
8. Close the Registry Editor window.
9. Restart the computer for the changes to take effect.

Your problem should now be resolved.

To a certain extent, all of these above characteristics intersect with each other.  Sentences that are inaccurately punctuated will lack clarity, paragraphs that contain duplication are usually poorly structured, and writing that is inconsequential suffers lack of completeness.  Hence, to communicate effectively, any piece of writing must demonstrate all five of these requirements.

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