Ensuring that written materials are easy to understand and use often starts with plain language best practices and includes field testing to “test” the content, format, and messages with the intended audience. Developers agree that user-centered design and feedback from intended audiences are critically important to developing clear, understandable, and useable information. However, there are often challenges to soliciting meaningful input from the “right” audience members, specifically, those with low literacy or low health literacy.
I read an important Letter to the Editor in The Charlotte Observer by Dr. Michael Sass, who is President of Catalyst Academy, a financial education non-profit. While I am very impressed with the mission of CATALYST and understand its importance, I do have an issue about one of his points in the letter. He writes: “Citizens should be investing only in financial products they fully understand…” However, in my experience, almost no average person understands much about the vehicles in which they invest.
For something that is so vitally important to all of us, money matters can be awfully hard to understand. Talk about stocks, inflation and other financial matters can seem like another language even if it’s all written in English. In order to empower people to take more control over their personal finances, implementing Plain Language in both private and public sector communications is essential.
April is “Financial Literacy Month.” Financial decisions – such as applying for a credit card, choosing a small business loan, or switching banks – cannot be made lightly.
No, my headline isn’t just click-bait. This piece really is about Donald Trump.
People in the plain language community have been watching this presidential candidate closely. Specifically, the way he speaks.
It’s been noted that Trump communicates at a lower reading grade level than other candidates. Trump speaks to voters at about a 4th grade reading level. By comparison, Jeb Bush and Hilary Clinton come in around an 8th grade level. Bernie Sanders is at the High School level.
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.
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.