Show Your Work: Novice Script Writer

The Articulate elearning challenge this week is about recording audio for online learning.

It got me thinking that before you can record audio, you really need to have a script to record. I’m a novice script writer, but here are my tips:

  • Write what you would say if you were just talking to someone.
  • Use contractions.
  • Try not to let Legal get involved (unless it is about compliance) – you’ll end up with Legalese.
  • Never ever use the passive tense. I export my scripts to Word and run a grammar check. It takes some ingenuity to get rid of all passive verbs, but well worth it.
  • Remove useless words and phrases – directly related to preceding point. I have a job aid hanging in my cube (see below).
  • Read every single sentence aloud. If you can’t get it out, reword it until it sounds natural.
  • NEVER EVER record word-for-word what is on the screen. Don’t read to people. (508 is exception).
  • If someone else is going to do the recording, make sure you give them phonetic spelling/hints for strange words or acronyms as words.

Does anyone else have tips?

About Tricia Ransom

Patricia Ransom: wife, daughter, friend. Learning, laughing, living. Chicago, Illinois, downstate. Townie, urbanite, traveller. Note: The opinions expressed on this blog belong solely to me and should not be assumed to reflect the opinions of any of my employers past, current, or future.
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5 Responses to Show Your Work: Novice Script Writer

  1. More great tips, Tricia! I added a link in the challenge comments to your post so folks can find these. I love your “find and delete” list! Great idea.


  2. Tricia Ransom says:

    Thanks Dave…this was a great challenge for me because I’m deep in the midst of writing scripts and recording audio!


  3. Good timing, then! “Very” and “really” are two words I make it a point to avoid. I really mean it.


  4. Steve says:

    These are fantastic tips, Tricia. Only one that’s a little sideways.

    “NEVER EVER record word-for-word what is on the screen. Don’t read to people. (508 is exception).”

    I’d adjust that to say “ALMOST NEVER record word-for-word what’s on the screen.” There are some instances where I would intentionally read word for word. When precision of the verbiage matters, as in legal / compliance. Or for effect. Wouldn’t do it often and would try to avoid it. Almost never:)

    For the second part, there are many ways to deal with Section 508 requirements to make content accessible for folks with a vision impairment. Self voicing content is one way. Another is driving through a screen reader. The key is conveying the same meaning. Often, when onscreen text is used, the audio carries more information.


    • Tricia Ransom says:

      Hi Steve, you make very good points! Really!

      I agree the occasional reading of the screen word-for-word can be powerful – in moderation, as in everything.

      It’s my personal pet peeve when I take an elearning course and every single word in the audio is also on the screen.


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