No complaining about Plain Language

informationmapping-canvas 05They’ve finally figured it out! Who are "they," you ask? Organizations of all types, big and small, public and private sector, across the globe. They’ve finally figured out that the different consumers of their content—customers, suppliers, partners, regulators, tech experts, and end users– all read at different levels and abilities.

Through sometimes painful experience, these organizations have learned that using Plain Language means clarity and ease of understanding for the reader, and that it pays off in customer satisfaction, loyalty, trust and “stickiness”!

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Plain Language and Information Mapping: Clarifying the Connection

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Interest in plain language is on the rise. Recent sessions of our Writing in Plain Language webinar have been very well attended, and not just by employees at federal agencies trying to implement the Plain Writing Act. Nowadays many attendees are from the private sector.

During the webinars, I’m often asked, “What’s the connection between Information Mapping and plain language?” It’s a good question, and my answer is, “They’re one and the same.”

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Plain Language: Getting to the Meat of the Message

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When it comes to propagating gobbledygook, lawyers are some of the worst offenders. In an earlier entry we mentioned that the legal profession’s love of confusing, convoluted language is hindering federal agencies in their attempts to implement the Plain Writing Act. When a reader sent us this impressive example of one agency’s “fog of legalese” we couldn’t resist the idea of rewriting it in plain language and then comparing it with the original.

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Reasons Why We Don't Need Plain Language

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With this entry we offer the last of three good reasons why the government and business organizations should continue to use gobbledygook instead of plain language in their communications with the public.

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Another Reason Why We Don't Need Plain Language

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Last time, this blog featured the first of three good reasons why the government and business organizations should continue to use puzzling, confusing language in their communications with the public. In this entry, we provide the second reason why gobbledygook is the better way to go. 

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In praise of gobbledygook

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Why we don’t need plain language

Our recent blog entries about plain language have featured attacks on confusing, wordy and convoluted writing. In the interests of fairness, we’ve decided to give the opposing point of view equal time. Here’s the first of three reasons why our government as well as American businesses should continue to use gobbledygook in their communications with the public. 
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Summary of written findings and observations including advisory commentary applicable to similarly purposed private sector initiatives, based upon investigation of the implementation of Public Law 111-274, enacted by the United States Congress on October 13, 2010 (Plain Writing Act of 2010)

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*or, without the gobbledygook: Plain Language lessons from our government

In our last entry, we noted that although the U.S. Government’s Plain Writing Act of 2010 has been in effect for over a year and a half, there hasn’t been much improvement in the way the feds communicate with the public. This time, we look at some of the reasons why the Act hasn’t helped cure the government’s addiction to gobbledygook. Understanding what’s wrong with their approach to the problem can help you avoid repeating the feds’ mistakes when you implement your organization’s plain language initiative.
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Writing in Plain Language: Are we winning the war on gobbledygook?

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Many Americans, puzzled and frustrated by incomprehensible communications from their government, suspect that the feds invented gobbledygook—and they’re right. The word “gobbledygook” was first used in the 1930’s by Maury Maverick, a two-term congressman. He coined the term to describe the confusing bureaucratic language he heard in the House of Representatives, which reminded him of the gobbling of wild turkeys back home in Texas.

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