"Insert the writable media into the optical disk drive."
It's not horribly bad as it stands, but it could be made simpler. Here's one version:
Open the disk drawer by pressing the button on the front of the drawer. Place the CD into the tray with the label facing upwards. Close the drawer by pressing the button again. Do not force the drawer closed."
Put the CD into the disk drive
So there's your answer. It's not patronising, it's not too complicated. It uses terms that everyone is familiar with, and isn't couched in lengthy words and stuffy language. It gives all the information the user needs, and isn't drowning in information we can safely assume they already know.
Just yesterday, to give a real-world example, I saw a blog-post titled "Marketing Leaders Should Help Create the Next Generation of Australian Multi-Channel Retail". Now, I don't even know what that means (and surely it needs another noun on the end ... "retail what"?). I clicked on the link, and read the first sentence, trying to work out if it was something I might be interested in, and saw whole sentences full of nothing but corporate-speak. Needless to say, I didn't read any more. And therein lies a valuable lesson - write for your audience, but never write for the sake of putting words on paper. Even if your audience is a group of corporate-types in suits, who live and breathe corporate-speak, don't write an empty document, filled with empty words. Make sure you have something to say, and then say it as simply and as accurately as possible.
The pictured quotes on this page have come courtesy of Andrew Davidson's wonderful Corporate Gibberish Generator
This blog post has been cross-posted to Professional Open Source Documentation