Choosing the best communication method

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Often, it is assumed that a communication (developed by a Technical Writer) will be a written communication. Whilst a written communication is almost certainly the most common method of communication developed by Technical Writers, written communications are not the only kind, and in some cases will not be the most suitable method.

Written communications

Has the benefit of leaving a permanent record of the communication

Recipient can read the communication over and over again

Verbal person-to-person

Consider appropriateness in terms of rank, relationship between sender/recipient.

Only really useful for one-to-one (or small group) communications.

Advantage is that everyone receives the message at the same time.


Consider the ability of the users to play back the multimedia content:

  • A PC that can support multimedia (graphics, speakers, software, codecs)
  • An environment in which they can play the multimedia content (i.e. if they are in an open-plan office then they will need headphones)


Recorded messages

(auto-responder systems on phones)


(Spoken, one person to 1:many) Here, the Technical Communicator will normally be involved in developing 2 things: instructor/facilitator notes, and handouts for the attendees. Both of these are variations on written communications.



  • Microfiche (72 pages to the sheet)
  • Rollfilm
  • Aperture cards

Advantages: Savings on space

Disadvantages: Machinery needed to create and display; updating

Consider growing role of magneto-optical cartridges

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