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1. Write short sentences

This section of SkillsYouNeed aims to make you think about your writing - from grammar , spelling and punctuation , how to plan your writing, and the various processes and checks to go through before pressing print or broadcasting your message online.

It also provides guides for specific pieces of writing that you may need to produce, whether at school, university, or in the workplace. Correct grammar, punctuation and spelling are key in written communications. The reader will form an opinion of you, the author, based on both the content and presentation, and errors are likely to lead them to form a negative impression.

Checking for poor writing and spelling mistakes should be seen as a courtesy to your readers since it can take them much longer to understand the messages in your writing if they have to think and re-read text to decipher these. All written communications should therefore be re-read before sending to print, or hitting the send button in the case of emails, as it is likely that there will be errors. If at all possible, take a break before re-reading and checking your writing, as you are more likely to notice problems when you read it fresh.

Even if you know spelling and grammar rules, you should still double-check your work or, even better, have it proof-read by somebody else. Our brains work faster than our fingers can type and accidental typographical errors typos inevitably creep in. The good news is that writing is a skill which can be learned like any other.

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms

One trick for checking and improving your work is to read it aloud. Reading text forces you to slow down and you may pick up problems with the flow that your eye would otherwise skip over. Another way to improve your writing skills is to read - as you read you pick up new vocabulary and engage with different writing styles. Always write with your audience in mind, and it can also help to bear in mind the medium in which you plan to publish. This knowledge will help you to decide whether you need to write in a formal style or a more informal one , and will also help you to decide on a suitable structure.

Finally, have a look at our page on Common Mistakes in Writing and Gender Neutral Language to help you avoid falling into some easy traps. They exist because they explain exactly what we want to say in easy-to-understand terms. But some people find them very annoying, and you need to use them with care. There are many times in your life when you will be asked to write something very specific. Whether this is to take notes of a conversation, write the minutes of a formal meeting, or prepare a report, all these types of writing require specific skills, and usually a particular style.

Many people would say that the art of letter-writing is dying out. However, there are still many times when you need to put pen or word processor to paper.

A guide for writing plain language summaries of research papers | Arthropod Ecology

See our page on How to Write a Letter for more. Being able to write well is a skill which will get you a long way in the workplace, partly because it is fairly rare in many places. I teach how to write in plain language for customers and readers. I teach people to write documents that ordinary people can read and act on. Since the average reader is an adult of limited reading ability, I spend most of my time in classes teaching writers how to become familiar with the reading habits of one's audience and how to write at that level.

Examples People often used examples to explain what they do, such as the following: I rewrite information for a broader audience. For instance, I rewrite the instructions on over-the-counter medicines.

Improving Your Writing Skills

Do you ever have trouble understanding the information you get about your retirement investments? Do you every get frustrated following instructions to do something on your computer or fix something in your house? My job is to rewrite things so that they make sense to you. You know how sometimes you have to read something, or fill out a form, and it's long, and boring, and complicated, or just awful?

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I create documents that have just the right information, that are clear, straightforward, to the point, and well organized. We make sure that when you get a letter from a lawyer or a bank or a government department, you can understand it and use it much more easily. We design such things as web sites, documents, bills, labels and letters so that they are easy for people to use. These professional associations are very helpful, as are the connections you can make with other members.

Several experts and associations also maintain plain language blogs. What new plain language challenges are emerging that you have not seen before? We asked about new challenges in the area of plain language. Here are some of the responses we received. How do we integrate the best of plain language and information design?

The words "Plain Language" are taken to mean only "simple words". It's a normal interpretation, I believe.


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And it creates a lot of confusion and misunderstandings. Researchers are being pressured by major funders to share their knowledge and findings more widely, using plain language. Differences between Spanish or French and English text when producing material in both languages at the same time. Bringing plain language and design into the higher education curriculum.

The major problem, according to the leaders of organizations in the plain language movement, is how to professionalize and unify the fragmented communications fields. This means setting up a proper institutional structure for plain language, including a single definition, standards, certification, training, research and advocacy. Which content areas are providing new challenges?

Plain English at Work A Guide to Writing and Speaking Reference

Complex or technical content can be challenging, too. Plain language experts share their views on how to approach those in charge, the people who decide if an organization uses plain language or not.

English Pronunciation Training - Improve Your Accent & Speak Clearly

And what to say to the people who do the day-to-day writing in an organization. Senior management expects this from us, and they will support it. And you won't look dumb if you write clearly. Many people need another impetus. They'll do it because others in their industry are doing it. They'll do it if they've had negative feedback from higher ups or those with clout. They'll do it, often begrudgingly, if the law tells them to. Use plain language so your message can be read at a glance. So their text cannot be misinterpreted. Know the readers you are writing for: their reading levels, their interests and concerns.

It comes down to what outcome do you want to achieve in writing a text. Reforming their approach will better achieve that outcome, working cooperatively with their readers. Clear documents save time, save money, save lives. What's the most important factor that motivates people to create better, clearer documents? We asked plain language practitioners what they think motivates people to create clear documents.

They said this: curiosity an interest in people a real desire to communicate creativity combined with a vision of what can be accomplished. How does one get started in plain language work? To be successful, you must be able to Convey information to people who have no background in a subject.

Convince potential clients that they would benefit from plain language.


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To learn about plain language processes, you need to Learn the techniques to analyze audiences, purposes, messages, and contexts.