Ten Steps to Plain Writing
2. Organize your thoughts
- Even experts prefer clearly written documents.
- What questions will your audience ask?
- Make sure your audience can find what they need.
4. Write short sentences and paragraphs
- Do not use unnecessary words just because they make you sound authoritative.
- Each paragraph should have one topic sentence and develop one idea.
- In documents, the average sentence length should be 20 words; 15 on the Web.
5. Use every day phrases and words
- People relate better to information that talks directly to them.
- Meaningless words and phrases waste space and your reader’s time.
- Eliminate unnecessary words - An absolute success, completely finished, tentatively suggest.
6. Minimize “Census-speak”
- Acronyms are not unique. Don’t assume your reader knows them all.
- Don’t use more than two or three abbreviations in each written document.
- Avoid bureaucratic and legal language — “promoting an informed and inclusive multicultural society.”
7. Use strong subjects and verbs
- Write the action(s) you want the reader to take.
- Use active voice to make clear who is responsible. Passive voice confuses the reader.
- Keep the subject and verb close together to avoid confusion.
9. Use headings, lists, and tables
- Headings and lists help your audience find the material they want quickly.
- Use tables and illustrations that visually engage your audience.
- Make sure that all the items in a list start with the same part of speech.