Geoff Hart

During a sometimes checkered career, Geoff has worked for IBM, the Canadian
Forest Service, and the Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada. In
2004, he threw away all that job security stuff for the carefree—not!—life
of the freelancer. Geoff works primarily as a scientific editor, but also does
technical writing and French translation, and occasionally falls into the trap
of leading or managing groups.

A Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication (STC,, he's
published more than 300 articles, most now available on his Web site (, as well as the book Effective Onscreen Editing. Geoff spends an altogether unreasonable amount of his time mentoring colleagues around the world. Contact him at ghart
(at) videotron (dot) ca or geoffhart(at) mac (dot) com.

Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash

Writing–and Editing–to Reduce User Errors

We must recognize that our readers are often distracted, stressed, fatigued, sick, or otherwise unable to focus their full attention on our manuscripts. This increases the risk of error. We can’t fix that problem. What we can do, whether writer or editor, is look for ways to eliminate certain common problems and minimize the likelihood of reader errors. Continue reading ...

effective infographics

Effective Infographics: Telling Stories in the Technical Communication Context

The word infographic is a portmanteau created by jamming together two words: information that you want to convey in a graphic form. Bar graphs and their cousins primarily present numbers. An infographic informs—it helps the viewer to translate raw data into meaningful information, and the accuracy of the data is less important than the accuracy of the message. Continue reading ...

Ten Design Principles and When to Violate Them

Dieter Rams, a German industrial designer from the functionalist school, followed a philosophy that will sound familiar when I paraphrase it: “form follows function” and “usability is fitness for purpose.” You know his work if you've used any Braun products released from the 1960s to the 1990s, or if you've used recent Apple products, many of which were inspired by his design principles. Let’s look at what technical communicators can learn from these principles—and when we should consider violating them. Continue reading ...

Undead Americans and the Need for Improved Audience Analysis

Undead Americans are a rapidly growing market segment, and are predictably attracting increasing attention from technology companies that have recognized the profit potential from this market segment. Before continuing, I should note that technical communicators must avoid using the dismissive abbreviation “UAs", not to mention the offensive epithet “zombies”, to describe these individuals. Such diminutives lead us to objectify these important members of our audience rather than treating them as individuals, leading to stereotyping rather than the effective creation of empirically derived, audience-focused personas. Continue reading ...

zombie success story

Onshoring: a Zombie Success Story – Part 2

Not only did I not eat the donuts; I went across the street for my chai. No sense taking any chances, and I needed a change of scene to think things through. What I’d learned about zombies was only reassuring from the perspective that nobody would be trying to eat my brain at work, and we wouldn't be locking the doors and hiding out with shotguns and talwars to ward off the zombie apocalypse. Continue reading ...

Onshoring: a Zombie Success Story – Part 1

The whoosh of six simultaneously released bated breaths drowned out Cook's next words. We’d been expecting the worst, and had spent more time during the last month helping each other polish our résumés than actually documenting the software. Nobody had noticed, lending an uncomfortable amount of credibility to the rumors. Continue reading ...