Plain English
WRITING
USER-FRIENDLY
DOCUMENTS
Linda Mason, Ed.D.
Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education
405-225-9486 [email protected]
PLAIN LANGUAGE WEBSITE
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http://www.plainlanguage.gov/
Plain Language
WRITING USER-FRIENDLY
DOCUMENTS
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An online tutorial
A reference manual
http://www.plainlanguage.gov/
INTRODUCTION –
How can we be better
writers?
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Engage your reader
Write clearly
Write in a visually appealing style
How can you engage your
readers?
 Identify your audience
 Organize to meet your reader’s needs
 Use a question-and-answer format
How can you engage your
readers?
 Use
“you” and other pronouns to
speak directly to the readers
 Use the active voice
 Use the appropriate tone
How can you write more clearly?
 Use
short sentences
 Write to one person, not to a group.
 Use the simplest tense you can.
How can you write more clearly?
 Use
“must” to convey requirements
 Place words carefully
 Use “if-then” tables
How can you write more clearly?
 Avoid
words and constructions that
cause confusion
 Use contractions when appropriate
A grant writing professor was lecturing to his
Grant Writing Workshop one day.
“Use the Plain English style to write clearly. In
English," she said, “A double negative forms a
positive. In some languages, though, such as
Russian, a double negative is still a
negative. However, there is no language
wherein a double positive can form a
negative."
A voice from the back of the room piped up,
"Yeah, right."
How can you make your
documents visually appealing?
 Use
lots of informative
headings
 Write short sections
 Include only one issue in each
designated paragraph
How can you make your
documents visually appealing?
Use vertical lists
 Use tested emphasis techniques to
highlight important points
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– Bold
– Italics
– Not ALL CAPS
List of simpler words and
phrases
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http://okhighered.org/grant-opps
Grant Writing Resources
Q: How many grant writers does it take to
change a light bulb?
A: 100. Ten to do it, and 90 to write
document number GC7500439-001,
Multitasking Incandescent Source System
Facility, of which 10% of the pages state
only "This page intentionally left blank", and
20% of the definitions are of the form "A ----- consists of sequences of non-blank
characters separated by blanks".
Plain Language
REVIEW
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Engage your reader
Write clearly
Write in a visually appealing style
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Plain Language