Plain language and Information Mapping
Plain language is a term for writing designed to help the reader understand and use information quickly and easily. Many public entities are required to use plain language in their written communications. When adopted in combination with the Information Mapping Method, it is an effective way to improve the quality and usability of virtually any document.
Plain language principles
Some of the main principles of writing in plain language are listed below:
- If a sentence is more than 20 words long, try to shorten it or make it into 2 sentences.
- Use the active voice rather than passive voice whenever possible.
- Avoid using jargon or unclear terminology.
- Change nouns to action verbs whenever possible.
- Be succinct. Try to reduce lengthy phrases to 1 or 2 words; e.g., "because" rather than "due to the fact that".
How Information Mapping fits with plain language
The goals of Information Mapping and plain language are exactly the same -both are intended to make information easy to read, understand and use. Another similarity is that Information Mapping and plain language have been adopted as writing standards by organizations seeking to improve the effectiveness of their written communications.
Information Mapping or plain language?
Information Mapping and plain language are in fact complimentary and you can apply them in combination to create a highly effective writing standard. While Information Mapping will help you structure the contents of a document so it is easy to use, plain language can help you improve the quality of the information contained within the Information Blocks of the document. Rather than choosing between the two, you can benefit from implementing both Information Mapping and plain language.
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