As I have discussed in previous columns, successful technical documents possess critical qualities. One of these and the one most commonly missing in weak documents is persuasiveness. Simply, persuasiveness is demonstrated value or utility to the reader. Weak writers assume value if they highlight the hoops through which they jumped in completing their work. This is not the case. Effort is not value; value is value, and it has to be shown.

It's easy to misconstrue persuasion or selling the value with a vision of a scientist or engineer as a stereotypical used-car salesperson with a gaudy sports coat and...

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