Minimalist Writing

Minimalist writing has been around for almost 20 years. The minimalist movement started with John Carroll’s book The Nurnberg Funnel: Designing Minimalist Instruction for Practical Computer Skill published in 1991 by M.I.T. Press. (1)

For many professionals who may their living as technical writers or technical communicators, this book forms an essential foundation in writing quality technical documentation. Carroll’s approach is to focus technical documentation on how users work, not how the system works. Or, to put it differently, focus on tasks users will perform with a system (hardware, software, service, or any combination) and not on the features of the product. Carroll presents significant research to support his argument and also provides examples in the texts to illustrate his points.

Technical writers who need to reduce the volume and complexity of their content should read Carroll’s book. It will help you to reduce the cost to develop, produce, and maintain technical documentation. It will also demonstrate ways to decrease the time and effort needed to work with content and improve the quality of your deliverables.

Anyone who is charged with writing documentation should read this book. It will change your point of view and your readers will love you for it.


(1) M.I.T. Press published a related book, Minimalism Beyond the Nurnberg Funnel, in 1998.


The EServer Technical Communication Library

Where to go for more minimalist information

William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White, The Elements of Style