Writing so clear, you’ll never know that you’re reading

That’s what I shoot for. I am an independent plain language consultant in Nova Scotia. My passion is taking complex information and turing it into a message you can act on.

Have your ever read a sign, brochure, or a set of instructions and wondered: “What am I supposed to do?” Take a look at the sign on the left. It’s posted outside Acadia University’s sports centre.

What would I do differently? First, I’d use the universal no-smoking icon to convey the main message.

I might even stop there but I get the feelig that the university wants to give its students, employees, and visitors a little more detail. So I would add a note:

“Acadia is a non-smoking university. Please put out cigarettes, cigars, and pipes in the ashtrays found on the edges of campus.”

I cut 18 words from the original message. I think I’ve made it much clearer. And I’ve rid the message of complex words such as “extinguish,” “receptacles,” and “periphery.” These words are difficult for early readers, those for whom reading is a more difficult activity, and those who are new to the English language.

I’ve been doing plain language consulting work for the Province of Nova Scotia for almost six years.

You can learn more about me and my work by checking out my resumé.


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