- Passive Sentences (should be no higher than 30% for technical writing)
- Flesch Reading Ease (60-70 recommended; should at least be over 50)
- Flesch-Kincade Grade Level (7.0-8.0 recommended; no higher than 10.0)
Put the most important information first. This is the classic journalistic standard of the "inverted pyramid." Start each section and subsection with the most critical information first, followed by supporting information in descending order of importance. This increases the chance that the reader, who likely isn't reading your document word by word, will capture the key content.
Always include an executive summary. One study found that only 10% of managers read the body of technical reports, while 100% read the executive summary. This is where you want to synthesize your most important observations, findings, conclusions, and recommendations. The length of the executive summary will vary depending on the size of the document, but keep it as short as possible.
Use ample headings, subheadings, and bullets. Long blocks of text impair reader interest and decrease readability. Break up text into shorter sections with informative headings. Present complex or multiple issues in bullet form rather than long paragraphs.
Graphically present key information where possible. Figures, graphs, drawings, and tables (if not too complex) are effective ways to communicate key messages, especially to readers who will not read the document in detail.
Have someone review your draft. This is commonly done with reports and proposals, but is often neglected with other writing that serves key objectives. Correspondence with clients, regulators, and other outside parties should be always be reviewed by someone other than the author. Same for important internal memos and correspondence. And don't overlook email, which has become the predominant way we convey written messages.