Writing Natural Language
Before we start writing, we should set up the ergonomic workstation and practice using an ergonomic keyboard and touch typing as discussed in the Workstation chapter.
The need for digital writing arises in many situations – for example, written communication such as emails, message boards, and chats and professional writing such as reports, articles, and documents. Becoming proficient in digital writing requires adopting a digital-first view of writing and typesetting in contrast to the print-first view. For example, in digital writing, should page size optimal for reading instead of the A4 paper size. We can set minimal margins on pages. Our document output should be easy to read on a mobile device.
Browser-based document editors make collaborative writing possible on the internet. They make automatic backups on your document, make documents easy to share, add the ability to add comments, and suggest edits to documents. Modern web fonts make reading documents easier.
Grammar and spelling mistakes in our text are embarrassing and unprofessional. In the digital age, they are easy to correct by using a digital writing assistant. Digital writing assistants go beyond grammar and can analyze whole paragraphs from a text and suggest edits. They make writing high-quality text simpler and faster. With higher-quality text, we can display competence and make our text easier to understand. We should always use writing assistants for editing official texts that other people are going to read.
Beyond writing assistants, we can also improve our writing quality and style. Here are some excellent resources for writing better:
Since we become less attached to our text over time, we recommend adding time between writing and editing to ease the pain of removing unnecessary text.
We may also need to translate our text into different languages. For best results, translate from English to the target language.
Writing Markup Documents
We can use markup languages to write structured text content such as webpages, scientific articles, and technical documentation. Similar to programming languages, a markup language is a plain-text format with a special syntax. In markup documents, we can write natural language text and other elements such as links, equations, code, and citations.
Markup document consists of one or more markup files and assets like images. We can write markup documents with the same tools as we write code, typically using a specialized text editor referred to as a code editor. Code editor combines useful functions such as project file view, color-coding, terminal, and other integrated tools. In addition to the core features, we can add capabilities to code editors by installing extensions for specific tasks.
Code editors always use a monospace font designed for displaying code. In monospaced fonts, every character has the same width, making structured text easier to read for humans. For example, Fira Code is a monospace font with ligatures that make multicharacter symbols easier for our brains to parse. Although Google docs is not a code editor, it also supports Fira Code font.
Depending on the output format, we can produce the markup document’s output using converter software or directly interpreting the markup source files. The benefit of markup documents is the control over details, the plain-text format allowing the use of software engineering tools, and versatility and ability to produce multiple output formats from the same markup source files.
In practice, we should use light-weight markup languages that support a subset of markup with an easier syntax. A light-weight markup document can be converted to a markup document using a converter.