How to write a FAQ

Frequently asked question (FAQ) sections abound on all kinds of Web sites. They may have been inspired by worn-out technical support staff seeking to lighten their load. Journalists gravitate to them as primers for topics they want to learn about. Marketing people can get in on the act by posting answers to the questions customers ask them (or that they want customers to ask them).

To see a sample FAQ, click here.

Sample structure

Although there isn’t much to structuring an FAQ, make sure that you follow a consistent structure for each question and answer:

Question

Word it as your customers tend to ask it. Your technical support and sales staff can help you with this. Make each question bold face so that it sticks out on the page.

Answer

Ask your technical support or sales staff what answers have worked in the past. Keep the font normal – people scan FAQs by the questions.

Tips

  • As your FAQ grows in length, create different sections to hold questions of the same type (e.g., software installation, third-party applications).
  • Keep the language as simple as possible. Since most FAQs are published on Web sites, you can make key technical terms into mouseover links so that when a reader moves the mouse pointer over a technical term, a definition pops up.
  • Keep answers short. If necessary, link to other sections of a Web site, using those other sections as you would the appendix in a white paper.
  • Your FAQ is a living document. Make sure it stays up-to-date.
  • You can have more than one FAQ. For instance, you can publish a general FAQ in its own section and, on the home page, the top ten reasons why your product is better than a recognized market leader.
1 Comment
  1. Thank you for sharing your tips and samples with us Luigi. I am also a communications professional but find your technical writing angle very helpful.

Leave a Reply