Nicely Said

Nicely Said is the new book on writing by Nicole Fenton and Kate Kiefer Lee. It’s fantastic and you should go get it.

Writing about writing is not an easy task, but Nicole and Kate have managed to craft a book that is practical, funny, and full of empathy, the kind that stands as a living example of its own advice:

Good content is clear, useful, and friendly.

I appreciated the consistency of the book—I never felt like I was reading two radically different authors crammed together. It felt like a cohesive work that exemplified how you can have a consistent voice and tone for an organization or collaboration.

Nicely Said moves quickly from the general (research, planning, process) to the specific (developing your voice and tone, writing for user interfaces/flows, style guides). As a developer writing isn’t my primary job, but it’s one that I’m doing more and more frequently. So I appreciate how Nicely Said is both broad enough to be inspiring, but also specific enough that I can use some of the suggestions right away. Through it all, Nicole and Kate balance practical tips and examples with humor and kindness.

Kindness may seem like a strange word to pluck out of a book that deals with the power of words, but there’s a sense of generosity that pervades the book. It’s hard to put my finger on it, but it feels a lot like a friend telling you how they approach their craft, instead of a dry manual. It’s only now that I write this that I get the double meaning of the title—that writing clearly and effectively doesn’t preclude being pleasant and welcoming.