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Great Resources on FAQ

If you write frequently asked questions (FAQ), check out these excellent resources from E-WRITE:

Frequently Asked Questions Style Guide
E-WRITE wrote this style guide for the Energy Information Administration of the U.S. Government. Even if you don't write FAQs, it is a good example of a style guide. Here are three suggestions on using links to provide additional information in FAQs, adapted from E-WRITE'S style guide:

  1. Use link text that enables readers to know exactly what they will get if they click the link.
  2. In your link, use the title of the page or document you are linking to if it accurately describes the content.
  3. Indicate the file format when you link to a file other than a web page, for example, a PDF or Word document.

"How to Work Your FAQs Harder, Not Your Agents"
In this article written for Contact Professional, E-WRITE experts Leslie O'Flahavan and Marilynne Rudick offer practical tips and a convincing argument for writing FAQ that reduce the work of customer service agents.

"Putting the A in the FAQS: How to Write Excellent FAQs that Answer User Questions"
In this article, O'Flahavan and Rudick offer six quick fixes for FAQ problems. The problems are:

  1. Too many Qs
  2. Chaotic FAQs
  3. Unanswered questions
  4. Dead-end answers
  5. Vague questions
  6. Marketing hype disguised as FAQ

For the solutions, read the article

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Thanks to Margaret at Snohomish County Public Utility District, who flagged this E-WRITE topic for me.


Posted by Lynn Gaertner Johnson
By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English. She grew up in suburban Chicago, Illinois.