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Friday, March 8, 2013

What is plain language? Putting it all together in a process

This article is the conclusion of a four-part series by Kim Sydow
Campbell at Pros Write. She explains that plain language can be considered a process that integrates the three aspects she discussed earlier to create successful workplace documents. 


As Campbell described them earlier, those aspects are
(1) textual elements like style and organization,
(2) reader outcomes like comprehension and usability, and
(3) writer outcomes like organizational costs and benefits.
Her description of the plain-language process--generally, writing and editing a document-- is excellent. It includes graphics and links to other articles for more information. As Campbell summarizes the process:
Minimally, creating a document requires drafting: putting words on paper (literally or figuratively). Sadly, amateurs operate as if this single step or activity = writing. To enhance the quality of documents and move amateurs toward expert status, writing teachers regularly add two additional steps to the process: intentional planning before you draft and revising after you have drafted. The wisest of these folks also promote some form of document testing in order to determine what and how to revise.
For more information and my advice on plain language, visit Garbl's Plain English Writing Guide. I describe the principles and process in seven steps:
  • Focusing on your reader and purpose
  • Organizing your ideas
  • Writing clear, effective paragraphs
  • Writing clear, simple sentences
  • Using suitable words
  • Creating an enticing design
  • Testing for clarity.
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Campbell's article is featured today, March 8, in my daily online paper, Garbl's Plain English Paragraphs, available at the Plain Language tab above and by free emails subscription.

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