Rules? Or just suggestions?

Posted on Jun 24, 2015 in Plain Language Blog Articles

Ah. Those pesky rules. If everyone would simply follow them, all would be well.

It’s not that easy, is it? But why not? Because context matters. For example, plenty of people reading this are thinking, “What kind of expert are you? You’re not even writing proper sentences! ‘Ah.’ isn’t a sentence! ‘Those pesky rules.’ isn’t a sentence! How can you hold yourself out as an expert if you don’t even follow the most basic rules of writing?”

But others will agree that ignoring the basic rules was perfectly justified in that first paragraph. Ignoring the rules shapes the style—it adds a certain tone or even personality. And if we can’t play with tone, style, and personality in a blog, where can we?

Continue reading the article Rules? Or just suggestions?

Questions from Plain Language students

Posted on Jun 10, 2015 in Center News, Plain Language Blog Articles

In 2012, with the support of a Legal Services Corporation grant, LawNY (Legal Aid of Western New York) and Transcend (a language services company) offered a 10-week interactive online course, Plain Language Seminar for Lawyers. 

Twenty lawyers from court systems and legal aid agencies across the nation signed up to learn more about plain language and to receive individual guidance with their active drafting projects.

Here are some of the questions posed during this class.

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What you missed if you weren’t at the ClearMark Awards on May 12 – and why you shouldn’t miss it next year.

Posted on May 22, 2015 in Center News, Events
What you missed if you weren’t at the ClearMark Awards on May 12 – and why you shouldn’t miss it next year.

You attended the 2015 ClearMark awards at the National Press Club? That’s great!

What – You didn’t get there this year? Oh, no! Look at what you missed.

Continue reading the article What you missed if you weren’t at the ClearMark Awards on May 12 – and why you shouldn’t miss it next year.

An instant way to shorten your sentences

Posted on May 6, 2015 in Literacy, Plain Language Blog Articles

Do your sentences suffer from “wordy phrase-itis”? These phrases pad your sentences with extra words. They increase the reading grade level. And they can make your writing sound stuffy. Here’s a list you can use to guide you.

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Why “active” voice is better than “passive”

Posted on Apr 22, 2015 in Board News, Literacy

Once a month, I take my daughters, 9 and 13, to get donuts at Yum-Yums on a Friday night. We pick a dozen favorites and then go home to watch a movie while we each enjoy one donut as our treat. (They’re huge!) Then I put my girls to bed. And they know they can have a donut for breakfast the next morning.

Continue reading the article Why “active” voice is better than “passive”
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