Politicians are the masters of interchangeability. They often do and say the same things. This comes in handy whenever they have to develop policy – they simply lift it from another party, giving new meaning to the term “single-sourcing”.
Where politicians especially excel is in their use of political slogans. You can take almost any slogan or expression from one party and reuse it in another. Here’s a few examples, culled from the websites of various political parties, and from my vivid imagination:
Tough times demand leadership to pull us together
Leadership certainty for Canada’s economy
A vision for the future
Clear direction for a brighter future
Working for your future
Helping families get ahead
Working for your family
Expanding opportunities for families
It’s time for a Prime Minister who’ll respect your vote
Giving everyone a fair shot
Making a difference
We’ll always be on your side
Looking out for your interests
For a richer, fairer Canada
Putting families first
Putting farmers first
Putting workers first
We’ll invest in your future
Let’s unite for the future
Looking out for your future
We’re a big tent party
Getting the job done right
Taking action on the economy
Protecting your job
Protecting your future
Protecting natural resources
A clear choice
A new choice
A strong choice
A choice of hope and optimism
Facing a critical choice
Text like this is reused, quite literally, across different (party) platforms. When developing documentation that will be reused, keep the principle of interchangeability in mind. The following example illustrates this:
You are documenting a set of installation guides for various products and want to reuse text where possible. One of the steps common to all products is:
From the installation CD, run Setup.exe.
The problem is that only some of the products are installed from CDs, while others are downloaded. If you want to reuse this step, you’d need to reword it to be fully interchangeable.
You could say:
From the installation package, run Setup.exe.
Or better still: Run Setup.exe.
The last choice is the simplest. It assumes the user knows where to find the setup file. If they don’t, they probably shouldn’t be installing the program!
Writers have a saying: “write what you know.” Technical writers need to “write what they know could be reused anywhere.”