Did you know that the general public reads at a grade 5-7 level (Canadian)? If English isn’t a reader’s first language, the reading level drops to grade 4-5. (1) Clear writing takes the audience’s reading level into consideration, along with many other factors.
Clear writing is direct, easy-to-understand written communication. The term “plain language” is also used to refer to clear writing.
Clear writing must
- speak to your audience
- use language that is easily understood by your audience
- be presented in an easy-to-read format
Using clear writing seems obvious, but many people struggle to communicate clearly. If a document is patched together from bits of previous information, or many people contribute to a project, clear writing often suffers. Installation instructions are notorious for listing steps out of order and not using simple language.
For some sectors such as public health, government, and education, clear writing is a necessity. However; even if it isn’t mandated by your organization, following clear writing principles ensures that your message will be best understood by your intended target audience. Clear writing also helps translation. When the source document is written clearly, all translations will proceed much more smoothly.
Minimize questions and confusion. Contact me and see how a clear writing revision can transform your documentation.
(1) Learning Networks of Ontario Clear Writing Course Pack, December 2013