Tips for Starting Plain-Language Program
Starting a plain-language program can be challenging. But like most challenges, the reward will far outweigh the effort. The reward in this case is clear communication — an asset for any organization.
Make it SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and have a Timeframe.
- Start with a clearly defined goal, and communicate your expectations to everyone involved in the effort.
- Implement a training program so that the entire organization is on the same page.
- Look for small successes and aim for continuous improvement — not rapid change.
- Revise first those documents that have the biggest circulation and are the hardest to understand.
- Post examples of clearly written documents on a website or home directory as a reference tool.
- Evaluate your progress frequently and seek feedback. Adjust your course if necessary.
- Designate “go to” people on your staff who are accessible and knowledgeable.
- Make sure your top managers are plain language practitioners.
- Encourage these managers to champion the process.
Many organizations have made the leap from obfuscation and confusion to clarity and precision in their written documents. It's never too early and never too late to start the journey.
Putting Plain Language Into Practice external link is a useful guide by Aggie Brockman for Canada’s Literacy Council. The “lessons learned” feature in the case studies and the work plan in section 7 are noteworthy.