Plain language to improve public service

Plain language to improve public service

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Confused signs Maybe it should be common sense, but it's not, not in private industry, nor in government. Effective communication is most frequently a matter of simple language and brevity, keeping it simple.

In honor of World Usability Day, the folks at the GSA are reminding us of this, with an example:

The idea of
speaking directly to people, in terms they understand, seems obvious.
It can be hard to break a long tradition of arcane terminology and
long-winded sentences, but the results can be a win for everyone.

Which would you rather read:

“The
Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends a half hour or more of
moderate physical activity on most days, preferably every day. The
activity can include brisk walking, calisthenics, home care, gardening,
moderate sports exercise, and dancing.”

Or

“Do at least 30 minutes of exercise, like brisk walking, most days of the week.”

That
example is from a Department of Health and Human Services project that
replaced a 6-page article with 1-page fold-out brochure. The shorter
version is not only fewer words to read, but gets right to the point.
It speaks directly to the reader, uses an active voice and keeps the
message as simple as possible.

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4 Comments

l-carnitine

I think, C is the plain language to improve public service. Because it is platform independent language. It is easy implement and understood to everyone. It can be useful in many ways like air-ticket booking, e-library, e-shopping and many more services.

Persoonlijke gehoorbescherming

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

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