Skill #16: Using Cognitive Science to Make Your Technical Writing More Interesting

As a technical writer, what does it mean to make your writing interesting? It’s a question you perhaps have never pondered—and understandably so: you spend your time ensuring that your docs are correct and easy to understand for users—not so much that the work is interesting to read.

It’s a comfortable approach to technical writing that’s easy to get stuck in—however, to the detriment of our work. Enter Anne Janzer: this epsiode’s guest and author of, well, several great books, but as we’ll highlight today, Writing to be Understood.

In her book, Anne discovered the essential techniques to making nonfiction writing more interesting for readers, including how to use analogies effectively to illustrate unseen concepts, appeal to readers’ innate curiosity, and balance humility with credibility.

In this episode, Anne shares takes her research on making nonfiction writing more interesting and shifts the focus to how technical writers can apply the concepts as well. We discuss:

  • where technical writers may currently miss the mark in their writing

  • how technical writers can use cognitive science to make their writing more interesting

  • small steps technical writers can take today to make their writing more interesting.