I’ve been reading through some plain language resources over the last couple of days, which has inspired me to create a few before and after examples just for you. Before I get to the examples, a reminder that the goal of plain language is to make communication clear and accessible. For a full review of how plain language accomplishes that, you can read my post from last year, Getting to the Heart of Plain Language — or visit Plain Language Association International.
I edit a lot of academic documents, so my first two examples are based on sentences I have actually run into. The third is more of a “real world” example of something you might find in an organization’s frequently asked questions.
Example 1: Before
Upon examination of the literature, the authors did not find sufficient evidence that make possible the elaboration of standard recommendations for the treatment of zombification after transmission. However, the ability of pharmacological interventions, such as Cerebropram (20mg x 3), Mortraline (100mg x 2) and Zomfexxor (50 mg), to delay onset of symptoms should be emphasized.
Example 1: After
The authors did not find enough evidence in the literature to suggest a standard course of treatment for zombification. However, the following drugs can help delay the onset of symptoms:
- Cerebropram (20mg dose, administered three times a day)
- Mortraline (100mg dose, administered two times a day)
- Zomfexxor (50mg dose, administered once a day)
Example 2: Before
The zombies’ low level of acuity in relation to their capacity for self-awareness was found to reside in a critically deficient amount of brain matter.
Example 2: After
The research showed that the zombies’ lack of self-awareness was due to a significant amount of missing brain matter.
Example 3: Before
If, for any reason, you require elucidation or additional particulars about the Zombie Apocalypse, one of our representatives shall be glad to furnish any supplementary details as may be required by email.
Example 3: After
If you have any questions about the Zombie Apocalypse, please email us.
So remember to re-read what you’ve written from a plain language perspective. Think about your audience and what you want them to take away from your writing. And if you’re not sure your writing is clear enough, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback.