Specialist terms

Readability guidelines

Specialist content does not need to be complicated and incomprehensible to non-specialists. Assuming who your audience is, and that they will understand the technical terms you use are both common misconceptions.

1. Remember that anybody can access your content.

2. Create content inclusively so that all users can understand it whatever their level of expertise or background:

  • do not just present a concept: explain its parts and processes in detail
  • if it's necessary to include technical terms consider explaining them and make sure the language surrounding them is in plain language

Options for helping users understand a specialist term:

  • link the word to a page that explains what it means
  • add a definition after using the term
  • link to a glossary – for example on a site for web developers which uses particular technical terms frequently link to comprehensive explanations of the technical language (this could be an external site – no need to reinvent the wheel)

Example content design for a specialist term

We found the following example sentence at http://sentence.yourdictionary.com/palladian and have used it as a base for applying our specialist terms best practices.

Before

"It is a stone building in Palladian style, and contains a number of splendid paintings and much fine wood-carving."

After

"It is a stone building in Palladian style, and contains a number of splendid paintings and much fine wood-carving."

Or

"It is a stone building in Palladian style and contains a number of splendid paintings and much fine wood-carving. Palladian architecture features columns, symmetry and decorative arches."

Usability evidence

Related wiki pages

Plain English
Sentence length
Sentence structure
Words to avoid

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