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Writing Content

Tips:

  • Use bulleted lists
  • Short sentences, or varied sentence length
  • Separate content into small chunks for scan-ability
  • Limit text to 3 lines (Dense, large paragraphs can be overwhelming)
  • White space makes text easy to read
  • Use familiar font
  • 12 or 14 point font
  • Use short words, sentences, and paragraphs
  • Use active voice/verbs
  • Use personal (conversational) pronouns (you, us, our, we).Write as if you were talking to a colleague or friend.
  • Use contractions (we’re instead of we are)
  • Omit needless words
  • Use subject-verb-object word order
  • Lead with the conclusion - it puts the key message where you have the most readers
  • Be consistent: Use the same words and synonyms
  • Present each topic separately, keep similar content/information together

Resources and Links:

Hemingway Editor: http://www.hemingwayapp.com/

Conscious Style Guide: http://consciousstyleguide.com/

Center for Plain Language -  http://centerforplainlanguage.org/

Plain Language.gov - http://www.plainlanguage.gov/resources/take_training/index.cfm

http://www.plainlanguage.gov/howto/guidelines/FederalPLGuidelines/FederalPLGuidelines.pdf

UX User Experience -  http://www.usabilityprofessionals.org/uxmagazine/people_who_do_not_read_easily/

Slideshare - http://www.slideshare.net/thomhaller/why-plain-language-content-from-the-center-for-plain-language

A Plain English Handbook: http://www.sec.gov/pdf/handbook.pdf

Juicy Studio's Readability Test - http://juicystudio.com/services/readability.php

"One unoriginal but useful tip: Write with a specific person in mind. When writing Berkshire Hathaway’s annual report, I pretend that I’m talking to my sisters. I have no trouble picturing them: Though highly intelligent, they are not experts in accounting or finance. They will understand plain English, but jargon may puzzle them. My goal is simply to give them the information I would wish them to supply me if our positions were reversed. To succeed, I don’t need to be Shakespeare; I must, though, have a sincere desire to inform."

Warren E. Buffet
A Plain English Handbook, Preface