Thursday, August 21, 2014

Plain treatment of difficult topics

When reading reports about the outbreak of ebola in Africa, I came across the NPR blog Goats and Soda. I was struck by the plain language used in many of the posts on this blog.

Most of the writers seem to consistently  use plain language techniques to talk about their 'Stories of life in a changing world'.

These stories make excellent reading. They're highly informative, but not overly complex. They explain difficult concepts and technical terms, and gently guide the reader through the topic. They mostly use short, straightforward sentences. This reader-friendly writing style helps to make the information easy to absorb and remember.

See what you think about this sample post. It reports on an interview with David Quammen, who recently wrote Spillover, a book about the science, history, and human impact of emerging diseases.
Read 'A Dress Rehearsal For The Next Big One'

Why is the blog named Goats and Soda?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Putting the big information first: Newly launched guide from the Cancer Society achieves the WriteMark

Last week the Cancer Society of New Zealand launched its new guide for people diagnosed with lung cancer. The lung cancer handbook carries the WriteMark Plain English Standard, showing that the guide has achieved a high standard of clarity.

The Cancer Society won the supreme award at the 2012 Plain English Awards. Their prize was document consulting services to the value of $10,000 from Write Limited. The Cancer Society worked with Write to review and refine the handbook. The handbook content was reviewed using the WriteMark criteria and was user-tested twice with real readers.

National Information Manager Sarah Stacy-Baynes says, 'We realised we needed to put the answers to readers' big questions first. Extra information was moved from the early part of the handbook to the appendix.'

Write's Chief Executive, Lynda Harris, is excited that the handbook has achieved the WriteMark. 'We're sure the new lung cancer handbook will become the 'go-to' resource for people needing support through diagnosis and treatment. Achieving the WriteMark shows the Cancer Society's continuing commitment to providing information in plain language to people in circumstances where they need clarity above all else.'

The new lung cancer handbook continues the Cancer Society's work to provide usable, reader-friendly resources for people with cancer, their families, and their friends.

Read the media release

Enter your document or website in the 2014 Plain English Awards

Monday, August 4, 2014

Entries are open for the Plain English Awards

It's time to enter the Plain English Awards for 2014. You're sure to find a category to suit a document or project you've been working on.

Read about the categories and entry requirements

And remember the People's Choice Awards too. You can nominate a really great document you've seen, or let the Awards judges know about one that wasn't reader-friendly.

Read about the People's Choice Awards