Should Technical Writing Capture the Reader’s Interest?

“This is why technical papers must be written and why they must be useful, usable, and used. If a technical report should inform managers, colleagues, and others about work in progress … or if a journal article should have a useful life-after-publication … why are so many technical documents neither useful, usable, nor used But try we must to make them better”

-Kenneth D. Mahrer, PhD, Senior Research Scientist, Denver Research Institute, University of Denver.

“What I Learned on my Summer Vacation”, The Leading Edge, (March, 19989).




“Most people who want to improve their writing think in terms of learning to write clearly.  Unquestionably this is essential—but it isn’t enough.  If you want people to read what you write, you must also know how to interest them…

“Unfortunately, in today’s world the competition for attention is so intense and the aversion to the printed word so strong that you won’t be read, or won’t be read properly, unless you can arrange to enlist the cooperation of your readers.  And you can do this only by arousing and maintaining their interest.”


-Ernst Jacobi, Writing at Work (Berkeley, CA:  Ten Speed Press, 1985), p. 7,8.