The Write Way

The Pros of Plain Writing

In October 2010, the Plain Writing Act of 2010 went into effect. Since then, federal agencies have been working to make their communications easier to understand.

The regulations are in place to help these agencies write common-sense, understandable documents and website content. However, federal offices aren’t the only businesses that benefit from clear writing. Perhaps your company should consider adopting plain language requirements, too.

Everything is clear
What is plain language? At its core, plain language simply means writing with words that most readers already use, in a way that most readers can understand. Plain language writing follows these guidelines:

These guidelines might seem straightforward. But taking them too far can result in writing that seems condescending or “dumbed down.” To avoid this mistake, be sure you understand your audience and their level of expertise.

Know your audience
Writing for your audience should be a top priority. The Federal Plain Language Guidelines begin by encouraging a study of the audience: “You should think about [the audience] before you start to write your document or your Web content.”

This rule encourages the writer to use language that’s easily understood without writing at a level that seems too simple. A good writing course can teach your organization how to identify separate audiences and address their individual needs through multiple documents or, if necessary, within the same document.

Make every word count
Another key element of plain language is eliminating non-vital content. Trimming unnecessary parts of a document helps highlight the content that matters:

When you follow these guidelines, writing naturally becomes clearer, less bulky, and more precise.

Reap the rewards
Plain language benefits writers and their readers. Documents that incorporate plain language

Because the U.S. Department of Defense, Department of Energy, and numerous other government organizations now use plain language, businesses that work with these agencies can benefit from following the plain language guidelines.

Is your business ready to realize the benefits of writing in plain language? Hurley Write can help. Hurley Write offers customizable onsite and online courses to help your team develop a dependable writing process. By learning how to write in plain language, creating successful technical, scientific, and business documents will become less of a chore. Not only will your business benefit, your readers will, too!

In honor of Hurley Write's 13th year of business, we're offering a BOGO special during February. Any two people who sign up at the same time will qualify for the BOGO discount; simply buy one full-price online course and the second course will be half-off (Option 3 only. Offer valid through Feb. 28). To receive this discount, email us or call us toll-free at 877-24-WRITE (877-249-7483).

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