Information micro-architecture: grammar, syntax, and cognitive rhetoric


Most discussions of information architecture (IA) treat it as a high-level discipline: it’s that thing we do site-wide, obsessing happily about taxonomies, hierarchies, and metadata, so that our content is more maintainable, navigable, and searchable. But what do your readers do when they actually find the information that they’re looking for? They read it. They read the words. Where’ s your information architecture now?

In this talk I’ll identify a few different ways that we can apply IA principles productively also at the micro levels of paragraph, sentence, and phrase. We’ll focus on a series of syntactic structures that prove their special architectural significance, based on the results of ongoing content testing at and on recent work in the field of psycholinguistics. These key examples show how far we can improve sentence processing speed, and thereby reader engagement, when we use grammar deliberately as information micro-architecture. The composition and revision strategies that this approach suggests are especially useful for anyone who’s writing, editing, or optimizing content for use at scale.

  • Conference: Write the Docs EU
  • Year: 2016

About the speaker

Rory Tanner