PL on the sentence level
But we are at the moment looking at the practice of plain language on the sentence level, more so than the bureaucratic level, and we will work up to the document level. While keeping in mind that plain language is not only about words you must still drill into your heads the principles of plain language on the sentence level before you move to the more intuitively-evident document level. That is, one can look at a document and tell immediately if it is well formatted and easy to navigate, i.e., the document has headings, subheadings, small paragraphs, consistent use of enhancements (bold, italics), etc.
Drill the PL principles into your heads, starting with the checklist and working up to all of these.
Write for the reader, not for the self.
Simple is better than complex.
Active is preferred to passive.
Put the actor and action close to each other.
Remember that short words are preferred to long word.
Remember that short sentences are preferred to long sentences. Most sentences should be under 20 words.
Remember that small paragraphs are preferred to large paragraphs. Readers intuitively skim if they see a paragraph is more than seven lines of text.
Challenge “to be” verbs.
Challenge adverbs – most do not modify the meaning of a sentence.
Challenge “it,” either at the beginning of a sentence or in the middle (usually after an introductory clause).
Challenge this, that, these, they, those and it at the beginning of sentences.
Challenge long words – use “change” instead of “modification”; use “gather” instead of “accumulate”; use “use” instead of utilize” or “the usage of.”
Challenge does not mean change. Challenge means to look at the words and sentence structures and ask yourself whether the words can be simpler and the sentences easier to understand if they are shorter. Can you rewrite the sentence according to PL principles to increase the likelihood that the most number of readers will understand the sentence the first time they read it?
The post PL on the sentence level But we are at the moment looking at the practice of plain language on the sentence level, more so than the bureaucratic level, and we will work up to the document level. appeared first on Versed Writers.
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