Headers Are for Skipping Content

Creative Commons License photo credit: loop_oh

Good tech writers use headers. Readers scan, and good tech writers help them scan to the right place.

But to tell you the truth, I don’t think about headers as helping readers know what to read. I think of them as helping readers know what to skip.

Simply put: Making people read is bad. So, I spend most of my editing time deleting words and trying to use them less. I’m not saying that reading is bad. MAKING people read is bad.

So I don’t think of a header as the warm light of home, calling people in to enjoy a hot dinner with the family. I think of them as a neon sign saying, “Authorized personnel only.”

Headers help people skip stuff they don’t need to read.

After accuracy and clarity, my main job is helping people read less.


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