RISMEDIA, December 30, 2010—As we get ready to say goodbye to 2010 and welcome 2011, New Year’s resolutions are on everyone’s mind. If you are looking for a resolution that you can stick to this year, the Center for Plain Language offers the following tips to help you communicate more effectively in 2011.
Five tips to communicate more clearly in 2011
1. Think about your audience. Write down what your audience needs to know in the order they need to know it.
2. Keep sentences short and direct. Use the simplest sentence structure from the third grade: subject-verb-predicate. And don’t mess your audience up by adding in between those elements. A good rule of thumb is to keep your sentences no longer than 20 words.
3. Write in the active voice. Voice is the form a verb takes to indicate whether its subject acts or is acted upon. The active voice tells readers who is doing what to whom (or to what). The active voice is usually briefer, clearer, and more emphatic than the passive voice. Examples: Active voice: Joe caught a frog. Passive voice: A frog was caught by Joe.
4. Do you need it? Simply put: don’t use three words where one will do.
5. Use personal pronouns. Pronouns such as “you” help readers relate better to documents. Any writing that uses pronouns is more economical and has a greater impact on the reader.
For more information, visit www.centerforplainlanguage.org.