Rules for Writing Plain English

From How You Can Write Plain Language by Just Following These 39 Steps
By William D. Lutz, author of Doublespeak Defined and The New Doublespeak

 

The Writing Process

1. Know your reader, and write with your reader’s viewpoint in mind.

2. Organize your text: in a logical sequence, with informative headings, and with a table of contents for long documents

3. Use short sentences

4. Say only what you have to say, avoiding too many messages in a single sentence, and omitting surplus words.

5. Keep equivalent items parallel.

6. Avoid unnecessary formality.

7. Give an overview of the main idea of the text.

8. List conditions separately.

9. Arrange your words with care.

10. Punctuate carefully.

11. Use an average of 25 words per sentence.

12. Put most of your messages at the subject-predicate position.

13. For variety or emphasis, invert your sentences.

14. Use the art of subordination to smooth out choppiness.

15. Avoid disrupting your sentences with thought-stopping gaps.

16. Tabulate particularly complex information.

17. Get rid of compound prepositions.

18. Rewrite the adjective, adverb, and noun clauses to other structures satisfying the same functions.

19. Use phrases to smooth out the choppy noun-noun modifier.

20. Be fair and nonsexist, but don’t be stupid.

 

Usage

21. Prefer the active voice.

22. Use simple, “everyday” words.

23. Use words consistently.

24. Use familiar, concrete words.

25. Avoid multiple negatives.

26. Avoid nouns created from verbs.

27. Use action verbs; avoid the verb “to be.”

28. Use personal pronouns.

29. Avoid noun strings.

30. Avoid deleting words such as “which is,” “who was,” “that are,” etc. – that link a subordinate clause.

31. Avoid language quirks.

 

Presentation of Material

32. Make the document attractive and designed for easy reading.

33. Use white space in margins and between sections.

34. Use ragged right margins.

35. Do not use all caps.

36. Use highlighting techniques, but don’t overuse them.

37. Use 8 to 10 point type for text.

38. Avoid lines of type that are too long or too short.

39. Avoid strings of symbols.

 

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Writers on Life (more memes)

 

 

 

 

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Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Writers on Life (10 memes)

 

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To regularly receive these bons mots, follow By George on Facebook and Twitter.

Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Text Message Abbreviations

There are few who will argue against the fact that modern language has degenerated with the advance of on-line communications – particularly our use of strings of abbreviations when we send text messages. For your reference to this new world of abbreviations, we have compiled some of the most commonly used:

AFK – away from the keyboard
ASL? – Age? Sex? Location?
B4 – before
BAK – back at the keyboard
BBL – be back later
BCNU – be seeing you
BRB – be right back
BTW – by the way
FAQs – frequently asked questions
IMHO – in my humble opinion
L8R – later
LOL – laughs out loud
MOF? – male or female?
NM – never mind
N/M – not much
NP – no problem
OMG – oh may god!
ROFL – rolling on the floor laughing
TTFN – ta ta for now
UR – your or you’re
W/ – with

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Chris George, providing reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.