Technical Writing Tip of the Month – February 2017

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Technical Writing Tip of the Month – February 2017

The Outside-In Approach

Don’t write about what you know; write about what the reader needs to know.

The Outside-In approach is the technique of writing the document from the reader’s point of view rather than your own. In order to do this we must first analyse the audience (see Technical Writing Tip of the Month January 2017).  Analysing the audience will allow you to determine the key message of the document and what you need to communicate in order to make the message understood. When using the Outside-In technique you must begin with the general and move to the specific; make sure that the most important information in each section or paragraph appears first rather than last. This will mean that the document will be more readable and more easily understood.

The Outside-In technique can be summarised in the following five steps;

  1. Determine the key message.
  2. Decide what you need to communicate to make the message understood.
  3. Give the big picture first.
  4. Start with the most important information.
  5. Let the detail follow.

The actions you want the reader to take when they have read your document should foremost in your mind when writing the document.


To find out more about this and other practical tips that will improve your technical writing why not come along to one of our Technical Writing Skills training courses. To enquire further or to book, call us on +353 61 339040 or email us.

John Lafferty – Technical Writing Tutor 

John Lafferty is our Technical Writing Skills course Tutor. John also delivers courses in areas such as Quality Systems, Process Validation, Software Validation and Quality Risk Management on behalf of SQT. John runs a Quality Management Consultancy, Northridge Quality & Validation, which specialises in providing assistance to the Medical Devices and Pharmaceutical sector.

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