Quick writing tip: What’s the default, and why?

As a technical writer, one of the most important questions you can ask yourself is “what are the default values of the choices a user can make, and why”.

For example, if an option is disabled by default, what does that tell you about the average user and their workflow? Are you trying to protect them from a common mistake? Save them an extra step most of them won’t benefit from? What kind of user, under what circumstances, would enable the option? What kind of user, under what circumstances, would want to enable the option and should be strongly warned against it?

Now consider explaining all that to your users. You’ll probably be helping them make the right choice.

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