Is it Okay to Use Subtle Humor in Technical Writing?
Despite what you might think technical manuals do not have to be boring. There is no such thing as a rule that says operations manuals and technical writing must be dry and monotonous. The reality is if you use subtle humor in your technical writing, you will keep the reader’s interest and therefore they will continue to read, and remember what they are reading. There are a number of books on how to do just about everything, and most of them now have cartoon characters as well as humor and even jokes throughout them.
Obviously, publishers do this because it works, and it gets people coming back buying more of their books, other how-to books in the same series. Therefore, the readers have voted with their dollars for what they desire, and what they clearly want is non-dry and not boring material, they want it to be alive. Therefore it makes sense to liven up your technical writing a little bit. Even if you are writing a research paper, it makes sense to use subtle humor.
Interestingly enough, most of the technical writers that I’ve met throughout my life have been quite humorous individuals, downright funny when you talk to them and you’d never suspect that they were a technical writer unless you knew their profession.
So, if you are a technical writer, and have a sense of humor, it is okay to let it out once in a while, or use examples that are humorous. It makes sense to use analogies that are kind of funny, quick little anecdotes, and stories that will make people laugh as they read. Please consider all this.