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When your doctor prescribes a medication for your child, do you know what the correct dosage is or how to measure it?
Are you comfortable asking your doctor questions when you receive a lab report and don’t understand the results?
If you can answer “yes” to these questions, you might have high health literacy, says Jodi Duckhorn, a social scientist and Director of Risk Communications at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Duckhorn’s team is responsible for making sure that messages FDA sends out are understandable to their intended target audiences—a key component of health literacy.
The Chicago Manual of Style does not like the pronoun “s/he,” and they don’t like “he or she” too much, either. They prefer constructions that are gender neutral. But for definitive guidance – and a few giggles – hear what the Baltimore Sun’s editor, John McIntyre, has to say on this topic.
This year the Center is taking a slightly different direction with our annual assessment of government writing: We are grading forms. Or should I say “We are grading Forms!!”—yes, this is exciting! (I don’t imagine, however, that all of the government agencies are as excited about this direction as we are at the Center).
What exactly is gobbledygook? The dictionary definition is “language characterized by circumlocution and jargon, usually hard to understand.”
(Is it just me? Or is it ironic that a dictionary definition of gobbledygook includes an obscure 5-syllable word (circumlocution) that could just as easily have been “wordiness?” Just thinking…)
As plain language experts, we often tell clients to use positive language. Even when explaining a negative situation, we recommend using as few negative words as possible. Many of us use this guidelines based on marketing strategies. However, we now have science to back us up.