The focus of this blog is construction-related topics. The purpose is discussion, so please feel free to comment! See Specific thoughts for thoughts from the daily life of a specifier.

23 November 2015

Tell me again - and show me the money!

In the last few articles we looked at how redundancies needlessly increase the size of specifications. Another thing that affects the length of specifications is writing style. Even though CSI's mantra, "Clear, concise, correct, complete", suggests specifications should contain only the essence of requirements, commercial guide specifications and office master specifications alike tend to use words that aren't necessary.

In 1949, Ben John Small wrote an article titled "The Case for the Streamlined Specification." In it, he uses anecdote and logic to explain why terse writing is superior to verbose. He also cites previous works that show that streamlined writing is nothing new, but has been advocated as far back as 1896.

In his opening remarks, Small said, "Streamlining is not and never has been considered a panacea or short cut in the writing of good specifications. If one can write a thorough and competent specification using the long form one can streamline that same specification without the slightest adulteration, yet reduce its bulk by one-third or more." Briefly, streamlining is the removal of all words that are not essential to understanding the specifications.