Tag Archives: Plain language

Think plain to make complex writing more readable

The Guardian’s Alex Hern forced himself to read all the terms and conditions he encountered in one week. In that time, he collected 146,000 words of legalese in 33 documents. It was, he said, “enough to fill three quarters of Moby Dick, just to explain what I can and can’t do online.” Few of us […]

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Use plain language to be clear

Let’s be clear. Those “Terms and Conditions” we have to “accept” or “agree to” before using new software, phones and other technology are anything but clear. I blame lawyers, who stuff sentences with words to cover every possible situation. The sentences are wordy and repetitive. And the lawyers seem to think shouty all-caps lettering IS […]

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Help readers understand when you explain

Noise is a big issue around airports. A jet taking off can produce an average of 100 to 120 decibels. That’s as noisy as it is in the front row of a rock concert. If, like airports, your business makes noise that’s affecting your neighbours, you want to show that you’re aware of the issue. […]

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Is Trump the new poster boy for plain language?

As a Canadian, I won’t comment on the recent U.S. election. But I will say it’s interesting that certain aspects of president-elect Donald Trump’s speaking style could be considered plain language. The November issue of my newsletter, Wordnerdery, talks about five ways you can aim for plain language in your own speaking and writing. It […]

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How to block the three biggest crimes against plain language

What better day than International Plain Language Day (Oct. 13) to talk about getting rid of jargon and wordiness? Plain Language Day is a way to let people know that plain language doesn’t mean “dumbing down” material or making it too elementary, a worry a client once shared with me. Instead, think of plain language […]

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Lose the legalese to be understood

The plaintive opening drew me in immediately: “Why are many financial news releases and publicly filed documents written so poorly?” In A Plea for Plain English in Financial Documents, Steve Lipin and Adam Rosman make the case for good writing in financial news releases, initial public offerings and other publicly filed documents. Instead of writing […]

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Jargon and insider language? The Olympics have ‘em

The Olympics can’t keep up with the corporate world when it comes to jargon, but they sure have a vocabulary all their own. With the 2016 Summer Olympics in full swing in Rio, let’s take a look. The most noteworthy/cringeworthy is how achieving a medal has become a verb. Athletes are now “expected to medal” […]

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7 ways to improve your non-profit annual report

Non-profit organizations use annual reports to let donors know where their money goes, and ask for more support. Yet a 2013 study* shows only 26 per cent of the Canadians surveyed think charities do a good job of explaining how donations are used. So, how does a charity do a good job of explaining, in […]

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Aim for plain language

I encountered an error message this morning trying to get to a Paper.li page. Talk about corporatespeak!!! The infrastructure issue impacting the service has been well identified and we are now closing in on a final resolution. Let’s pick it apart: Infrastructure issue: Well, points to Paper.li for apparently, sort of, taking ownership of the […]

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