The Canadian government recently released over 2,500 pages of documentation. This was in response to pressure from the opposition parties regarding the controversy over how Afghan detainees were treated by the Canadian military.
2,500 pages sounds like a huge amount. The problem is that most of it was censored for “security” reasons, an explanation which the opposition, of course, does not accept. My first reaction when I saw the heavily-blacked out copies on the news was that it was a huge waste of toner and paper. The government could have spared themselves much grief, ink and trees if they had simply emailed everyone a document that only contained the non-redacted text.
Tech writers often get hung up size. Picture this conversation:
Tech Writer A: I’m working on a guide that’s 300 pages!
Tech Writer B: That’s nothing – I’m working on a guide that’s 1,000 pages!
Tech Writer C: 1,000 pages? That’s a lot – if you’re a little girl…
Size just doesn’t matter. The quality of a document is not proportional to its volume. Some shorter documents are useful while other larger ones are not. In fact, less is often more. Succinctness and brevity while remaining clear and thorough are the true hallmarks of quality.