Tag Archives: Readability

Avoid jargon monoxide with the Son Test

Newsletter articles and any other writing — speaking too! — can be improved if you cut out “hollow and meaningless” business language. This gobbledygook is also known as jargon monoxide, a wonderful term I discovered this week in a tweet by Stanford professor Bob Sutton, aka @work_matters. He in turn credits author Polly Labarre for […]

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Fight for readability with five easy fixes

The easier we make it to read our newsletters and other material, the more people will read, understand and retain. Sometimes copy reviewers – engineers and lawyers spring to mind – will challenge you. They’ll try to turn simple words into stilted, formal comments. Sentences will lengthen, stuffed full of every fact. Jargon and acronyms […]

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Writing for the web? Plan on impatient readers

“Write for impatient users.” If you take nothing else away from the latest study done by web usability expert Jakob Nielsen, that would be it. While Nielsen was specifically looking at how teens navigate online, you could make the case that everyone is impatient online. Think of how quickly you abandon ship when a site […]

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Erase these wordy phrases

It can be easy to just go along with formal, wordy and awkward wording, especially if your Legal team has a chance to review articles before you publish them. (Sorry, lawyers, but you know you aren’t comfortable with informal!) But please don’t. I’ve been editing copy this week, and here are some of the awkward […]

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105 words guarantees confusion

Ontario and British Columbia are getting a new Harmonized Sales Tax, or HST, on July 1. The HST replaces the Goods & Services Tax that I now charge, so this will affect me. So I signed up about a month ago to receive technical bulletins from the government that would tell me things I might […]

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Joining the scrum

Is this a new HR term? I’m talking about “scrum” as a way of describing a manager (sorry, “leader,” as this particular client now calls the management level)/employee communications session. The old use of scrum relates to rugby. I’ve seen it described as a way to restart a game after an interruption (say, a minor […]

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Writing for readability

I’ve been playing with the grammar function in Word after a reminder from the Publication Coach, Daphne Gray-Grant. By paying attention to things like words per sentence (aim for an average of 14 or less), passive sentences (no more than 10%) and Flesch-Kincaid grade level (grade 9 or less), you can make your writing easier […]

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Governments could do a better job of communicating, don’t you think?

I’ve been filing Goods & Services Tax returns with the Canadian government without incident since 1991, so I was alarmed to receive a “Statement of Arrears” from Canada Revenue Agency. A closer look revealed that the document was a new type of acknowledgement that the agency had received my payment. At the bottom, I saw […]

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