Monday, September 03, 2018

15 Ways to Write in Plain Language

People understand legal documents and government form more easily when they're written in simple language with plain words.  Any information supplied through online publications giving information explaining a process, should always be apparent and to the point.

Below are some ideas on how to make your message be understood more clearly:

1. Who are your readers?  Understand and identify their needs.

2. State the purpose of the content in an introduction or during navigational content.  Recognise what your readers need to do after reading the content, use your writing to show them how to do it.

3. Arrange the content so that it makes sense to the reader.

4.  Make requirements and responsibilities clear.

5.  Use tables, examples, anecdotes, images to provide clarity.

6.  Keep sentences short, avoid double negatives and keep the subject, verb and object close.

7.  Keep paragraphs short, stick to one topic.

8.  Use second-person pronouns to make your writing more understood, instead of third-person pronouns.  This will help you to write with an active voice.

9.  When indicating a requirement use must, not shall: "You must include a sample".

10.  Refrain from smothered verbs: "We will decide soon," instead of "We will make a decision soon".

11.  Don't confuse readers with elegant variation, use the same accepted terms every time you refer to them.

12.  Stay away from jargon and legal terminology like herewith etc., use terms and provisions that your audience are familiar with.

13.  Present information in a question-and-answer format, using conversational wording.  Providing clear and concise responses.

14.  Exclude unnecessary words.

15.  Link wisely.  Don't use generic linking like "click here" etc.

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