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© Ugur Akinci
Humor is great. I love it. Once upon a time I used to write jokes for comedian Joan Rivers as a freelance contributor. Making people laugh is a skill that I respect and truly love.
However, when you are writing a technical document or book, you should be very careful before injecting humor into your writing since humor is relative and subjective; what’s funny to you may not be that funny to someone else. A joke, if not appropriate, can damage your credibility.
Here is an example from a best-seller technical book written by a well-known author. The book itself is excellent. I learned a lot from it. But when I came across this joke I could not believe my eyes that neither the author nor his editor saw anything wrong with it. I checked my reaction with other tech-writers through Facebook and they were all pretty much horrified with the openly sexist nature of the joke.
Here is the joke, in the section where the author is talking about MS Word “themes”:
“[Using themes is] like having a graphics designer assist you but without having to suffer through her lamentable complaints about how her boyfriend pays no attention to her and never takes her anywhere.”
Ouch! A terrible and openly sexist joke that should have no place in any technical document or book. It’s amazing that the editor at this well-known publishing house has missed this totally unacceptable attempt at levity.
Next time you feel like cracking a joke somewhere in your writing, make sure it reflects the truth (not all graphics designers are whining women) and is not at the expense of a whole category of people (in this case, graphics designers).
(Photo courtesy of Nicolas Cool at Unsplash-dot-com)