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Friday, July 13, 2012

13 Plain Language - The Canadian Style - TERMIUM Plus® - Translation Bureau

This extremely informative, helpful Web page is at the website of the Canadian federal government. A statement there notes:
The Government of Canada calls for plain language to be used in its communications with the public ....
In its introduction, the site explains (emphasis added):
The purpose of a plain-language approach in written communication is to convey information easily and unambiguously. It should not be confused with an oversimplified, condescending style. Rather, by choosing straightforward vocabulary and sentence structures and by organizing and presenting your material clearly and logically, you can save the reader time and effort and ensure that your message will be clearly understood.
This site is prepared for government workers. But, of course, plain language is a method of writing that can -- and should -- be used in all fields.

The site describes the plain-language approach in these steps:
13.02 Focusing on the reader
13.03 Text organization
13.04 Vocabulary
(a) Use simple, familiar words and phrases ....
(b) Choose verbs over verb-noun phrases ....
(c) Cut out unnecessary words ....
(d) Avoid jargon ...
(e) Explain complicated ideas. ...
(f) Avoid chains of nouns. ...
13.05 Sentences
  • Keep sentences concise. ...
  • Make your point clearly. ... 
  • Use the active voice. ...
  • Convey your message positively. ...
13.06 Layout and design
  • Choose appropriate type. ...
  • Use open space. ...
  • Create contrast. ... 
13.07 Testing
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This article is featured in today's (July 13) Garbl's Plain English Paragraphs -- available at the Plain Language tab above and by free email subscription.

For more information, also check out Garbl's Plain English Writing Guide. It describes the process in similar steps to the article featured here (but with more advice and information).

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