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Don’t blame your readers for not understanding

Another holiday season has passed, along with the requisite schmoozing at parties. I tend to be more of a listener than a talker. But if I’m asked, I do admit that I’m an editor and a proponent of plain language.

If most of the people you’re trying to communicate with aren’t responding in the way you intended, there’s a good chance that the problem is YOU.

twitter bird

Tweet this: Simple and short

I admit it. I’m a Twitter junkie.

Am. Hooked.
That little blue bird links me to world news, business trends, entertainment, and my political and social interests. The key value of Twitter is its limited character count. It forces writers to be direct.

feedback blog image

Give us your feedback?

We’ve all felt the frustration of filling out an online comment card that looks like it was created by someone who had never seen the website you want to comment on in the first place. “Have a Comment?” the site asks enthusiastically. You click on the digital Comment Card link. The page opens, and you scan for the options that most closely match your feedback. It’s not there.


A Short History of the Center for Plain Language

As we look ahead to 2017, let’s take a look back at where we began.

How did the Center begin?

In the mid-1990s, a group of federal Plain Language advocates met monthly in Washington, DC. We called ourselves PEN – the Plain English Network. In 2000, we changed the name to PLAIN – the Plain Language Action and Information Network. And PLAIN still exists today.

A 47-word road sign

Financial Product Legalese – It’s on you

The Center for Plain Language had this to say about the legal fine print that overran one advertisement for an investment product: “Once again a financial institution that expects me to trust them with my money makes it impossible for me to know what they are going to do with my money.”

The Center had singled out a Charles Schwab & Co. ad for a Wondermark “award” for unintelligible writing.