I am trying to create documentation for an application, and it's for end users who use keyboard (not mouse) and a screen reader.
Some of our conventions require us to always use the full phrase as listed on screen: if we're talking about the category combo box, but the label says "Please pick a Category:" [sic], that's what we have to use.
Another convention is for keyboard shortcuts -- they are always several "words" long, as we use white space (or I go non-breaking-space) between each element of it. So we have CTRL + INSERT + T for tables list.
So as you may have noticed, I have a tendency towards long sentences with many clauses. I'm using Hemingway to check each section for Plain Language, and I'm trying to revise the hard/very hard sentences.
The problem is, my sentences are often very long and it's not my fault!
If I replace a multi-word phrase whether keyboard shortcut or on-screen label with "xx," that usually brings the sentence's word count down that the sentences "pass."
Is this "cheating?" Are these "terms of art" and it's ok to say "Ctrl + INSert + number pad 6" is understood as a "word?"
Should only the keyboard shortcuts count as 1-word, as the users may know them from other uses of the screenreader, (so replacing them mentally with "X" for a plainLang check is ok), but "envelope Send Email checkbox" still has to count as 4 words, as they would be new to the user? Or only the first-usage within a section?
Note: My workplace doesn't allow the use of 2nd person, despite PlainLang encouraging personal pronouns -- I'm already "wasting" words by having to always say "the user" instead of "you."
I'd like to know if other technical writers have a consensus on how to handle these conflicts.