Plain English writing is the art of tailoring your text to your audience. In other words, a text your audience can understand the first time they read it. To accomplish that your audience has to be able to read your text without the use of any aids, such as a dictionary.
Resolve issues with your text by studying how to assess your reader accurately, and plan for their needs. Practice techniques for simple language writing. Understand how page design affects comprehension, and learn how to evaluate the readability of your text.
First off, organizing your text, your text has to have a logical order with the audience in mind.
Break up your content by using subheadings. Not only do they look good within your text, but also give a tidy appearance.
Break The Line. Line breaks are your friend; they help you and the reader to easily decode text by having white space in between lines.
Keep your sentences short, as a matter of fact, around twenty words.
The Bullet List. Yes, use it to make multiple points, as a bonus, bullet lists stand out from your page. They are attractive to the eye so to speak.
Always use the first person-“you”- as well as all the other pronouns that are available.
Stick with -“active voice”-, always.
Only use official words, nothing technical, just plain English as you hear it every day.
Image Caption. Of course, use it. Readers always scan images. And if you use a caption with your image, even better, intrigue your reader to carry on reading.
Links Within Text. Use them to link to your relevant content on your page. You may refer to an external page provided it has any relevance to your text. The benefit may be a back link, but of course, that is not a guarantee.
Use highlights where appropriate within your text to emphasize a particular portion of your writings. For instance, use italics to have part of your text stand out.
We all love numbers. Numbers let us see in detail how much of a discount we can expect. Use numbers where appropriate within your text. Once again, by using numbers, you are using a tool that elevates one portion of your text. By doing so, you lead the reader’s eyes to that portion.
Review your content. Reviewing is an important part. Scan over your text, does it make sense? Is it easy to read? Will the reader get the idea?
Get rid of all filler words. Don’t use -“really”-, -“very”-, and such. Those words only weaken your otherwise profound text. Ice-Cream is very good. No, it really is good. Ice-cream is good, and that’s it. End of the sentence. Ice-Cream is good. It does say it all, no need for extra words.
Let me explain:
Ice-Cream is very good. Here we have a complete sentence.
No, it really is good. That is also a complete sentence.
-Ice-Cream is good. Here we have a complete, but a better sentence.
No, it is good. That is also a complete, but a better sentence.
There is no need to emphasize a sentence with a pointless intensifier/qualifier.
Neither very, nor really does make ice-cream good. Ice-cream is good without really and very. Point taken?
Well then, moving on.
Use Plain English Writing For Your Blog. Your audience will thank you by coming back for more. Check out my blog post on that topic.
Wordiness occurs when you use words, be it complex or abstract to an extent which would describe -way too many. You have an excellent chance to irritate the reader. Good practice to avoid wordiness would be as follows.
Filler Words. Remember the ice-cream example? There you have a perfect example of a filler word. It’s pointless, no need for it, don’t do it.
No need for it. It is as simple as that. Redundancy occurs when you use some words within one sentence that essentially have the same meaning. For instance:
Jon is a bright, clever, and intelligent person. No, please. There you have three words which in essence have the same meaning; Jon is not stupid.
As with the ice-cream example, there is no need for those words. All they do is make the sentence and all of your writing awkward. Instead, use the next best thing. Let’s use the ice-cream example, instead of Ice-cream is very good; we will simply use Ice-cream is excellent.
Do you notice the difference? Excellent!
Keep your sentences short. Doing so will have the reader absorb your text easily. Try to max-out your sentence at twenty words.
There is not much I can say about jargon other than don’t use it in your text. The reason being, exclusivity! You are limiting your audience to readers that understand the jargon or that you are using in your text.
The design of your text plays a significant part of how your audience perceives your writings.
Use proper fonts. Arial at size 12 is always an excellent choice.
Line spacing. Believe it or not, improper use of line spacing is a great way of getting rid of your audience. It makes text hard to read.
One line high for line spacing is perfect.
Stick with dark text on a light background. Let’s say a dark gray on a white background, perfect.
Use plenty of pictures. People love scanning pictures; it also gives a nice touch to your text.
Check your spelling; I can’t say it often enough. Check it.
And that’s all there is to Plain English Writing.
Do you have ay thoughts on this blog post? I’m happy to read about it in the comments box.
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