Garblog's Pages

Monday, February 11, 2013

What is plain language? (Part One: Elements of the text) | Kim Sydow Campbell, Pros Write

This article is featured today, Feb. 11, in my online daily paper, Garbl's Plain English Paragraphs. The author's follow-up article is also featured today in my Plain English paper: What is plain language? (Part Two: Audience outcomes).

In the first article, Campbell writes:
Perhaps the most obvious way to define plain language is to focus on the words a writer chooses. For instance, a common proscription from those interested in better workplace writing is for writers to avoid jargon. Jargon is a word with a highly specialized or technical meaning.
With links to related videos, she continues by describing other aspects of plain language writing. They include:
  • conciseness
  • active vs. passive voice
  • word choice
  • parallel structure
  • tone
  • placement of the bottom line 
  • paragraph unity
  • cohesion
  • transitions
  • format.
Campbell's second article covers equally important considerations for following plain-language principles. She writes:
[A] document is successful only when it fulfills the writer’s purpose for the document’s readers. There’s no such thing as a successful document considered in isolation.
And then she discusses the desired outcomes for readers:
  • comprehension
  • usability
  • efficiency
  • credibility
  • selection.
She concludes (emphasis added):
I understand plain language as the outcome of an audience’s interaction with a text, and the outcome includes but is not limited to comprehension. You may have noticed that I have said next to nothing about the third point of the rhetorical triangle. That means you can expect Part Three to address document writers and their purposes for writing.
Update: Here's my blog post on Campbell's fourth and final article in this series. It has links to her three other articles. 

________

My Plain English paper is available at the Plain Language tab above and by free email subscription.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...