Photo by Tobias van Schneider on Unsplash

I’ve spent the better part of my professional career as a contract technical writer. During that time I got the chance to examine why some organizations struggle with their technical documentation. With limited resources and budget, it is sometimes too easy to shortchange technical documentation and other written communications. With some realistic planning, this doesn’t have to be the case.

Recently, I was talking with a marketing consultant friend of mine, and we were discussing documentation problems and how small companies could get past them. The number “3” kept resonating for some reason.

  • Three drafts because in the end any more drafts like that aren’t going to improve the document much and anything beyond that can dunk a project schedule underwater unnecessarily.
  • Three document review cycles before declaring the document final because beyond that mean splitting hairs over minor issues that may not be picked up in the final product anyway.
  • Three sets of eyes on the document because even two sets of eyes can miss something.

Granted our discussion centered on developing technical documents on small project teams but do you think “3” is the answer to many technical documentation problems?

Hi! My name is Will Kelly. I’m a technical writer and analyst based in the Washington, DC area. I’ve worked with clients like NetApp, Dell, and Neustar to develop technical, training, and thought leadership content. My articles have been published by IBM Mobile Business Insights, TechBeacon, CNET TechRepublic, Network World,,, and others. Follow me on Twitter:@willkelly.

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