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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Using Plain Language to Write Clearly | Norm Schneider, Writinghood

This article begins, "Writing in plain language will help you to communicate clearly and effectively." It then provides useful background on the purpose of plain language, its value for many readers, and its effectiveness.

Schneider writes:
In its effort to emphasize the use of plain language, the U.S. government established a website – – where tips for writing in plain language are provided.
The site suggests that writing in plain and understandable ways begins by writing for the “average reader” which means knowing the expertise and interest of the average reader, and writing to and for that person. You don’t need to write in a way that mainly experts, lawyers, or academics in the field might understand it (which some people do merely to impress others), unless that’s the audience you are writing for.
The article ends with eight tips that cover organization of a document, headings, use of pronouns and active voice (active vs. passive verbs), long sentences, wordiness, word choice, and use of tables and charts.

For more information, check out Garbl's Plain-English Writing Guide.

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