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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

In other words’ (unofficial) guide to writing in plain language | Caryn Gootkin, The Media Online

This guide is part I of Gootkin's useful two-part guide. Here's how she said she's arranged it:
For obvious reasons I have tried to make this guide easy to understand and simple to use.
So, there are going to be bits in here that are nothing new to some of you. Bear with me, I am writing for a wide audience and hope that this will become a reference resource. I want it to be useful to both mother-tongue and second-language English writers.
But before providing tips on using plain language, she explains why it's useful. For example (emphasis added):
If you are writing fiction, an opinion column or other words that readers may choose to read, personal expression will dictate your writing style. But if you are writing words that customers, colleagues or members of the public need to read, always try write in plain language. If you are using words for marketing or advertising, bear in mind that the simpler your message, the better your chance of reaching your target audience.
At the risk of stating the obvious, you should write in plain language because you will get your message across more quickly and in a way that more people can understand more easily. ...
Besides a simple, handy chart defining grammar terms, Gootkin lists eight general rules of plain language. They cover word choice, word usage, sentence structure and punctuation.

Part II of Gootkin's guide provides more details on grammar and these rules.

If interested, you're welcome to check out Garbl's Plain English Writing Guide.

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