Communication Plan Checklist
Gibbons alleges that the election code was
violated since a "plain English" version of the question was not published prior
to the election.
Due to the alleged
errors, he has asked the county court to declare the results of the public question null
Undersecretary of Education Gene Hickok said how decided to join the crusade
against convoluted language, when then-Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge appointed him the
states education secretary.
"What we write and how well we write it will be a
major factor in sustaining public interest and involving parents, educators, local
officials and other interested parties in our efforts."
The memo encourages staff to keep sentences, paragraphs and sections short;
- separate sections with headings that accurately reflect
the content in the section
- avoid insider, legalistic and bureaucratic language
- include only relevant information, while making
nonessential information available to readers on request
- avoid using outdated documents as templates
Hickok used to keep a "jargon jar" in his
office and fine staff $1 every time they used overly complex and technical language in his
office. Hickok has outlined tips to help staff write clear documents about department
George Bush as the Role Model Plain-Speaker
The US government needs more employees like President
George W. Bush
To be more precise, it needs people who can resist the
urge to pepper government documents with jargon.
This message comes from the Plain Language Action & Information Network (Plain), an
organization committed to removing "doublespeak" in government documents.
Plain Language Action & Information Network, recently
warned government employees about the pitfalls of writing in convoluted English.
Tommy Thompson, secretary of health and human services said that for many
Americans the red tape of government regulations is unclear, complicated and time
One of the challenges is the number of lawyers involved in crafting rules and regulations.
"Lawyers have been writing two words instead of one since the Norman Conquest,"
says Mark Painter, an Ohio appeals court judge.
US government agencies are making progress; many have
introduced training programs to help employees communicate clearly.
Newly appointed federal judges now get training in
crafting coherent and clear opinions, says Carol Wilson of Plain Language Association
Joanne Locke, of the Food and Drug Administration, pointed out that Sweden has
officially appointed language experts to ensure that laws are easy to understand; no law
is passed without their approval.
The European Commission published a booklet, "Fight the Fog",
that encourages Commission staff to write clearly. It contains guidelines on avoiding
abstract writing and using too many nouns
Faith-based organizations in Plain
President Bush plans to take steps to end "a pattern
of discrimination" against faith-based and community charities that get federal
grants. He issued an executive order, effective immediately, directing federal agencies to
give equal treatment to social-service groups with religious affiliations.
The President said, "we should focus on the results
Mr. Bush also said that federal booklets would
soon be issued to faith-based organizations explaining "in plain English"
how they could apply and qualify for aid without running afoul of church-state barriers.
Richard Gere Foot in Mouth award
Richard Gere beat off all competition to win the Plain
English Campaign's Foot in Mouth award.
This is what he said: "I know who I am. No
one else knows who I am. If I was a giraffe and somebody said I was a snake, I'd think
'No, actually I am a giraffe.''
Among the 10 winners of the Golden Bull awards for poor
- Halifax Insurance
- Scottish Parliament
Another Golden Bull winners described the laying a brick
in a wall as:
"..to install a component into the structural
The Scottish Parliament's winning effort (Paragraph 59 of
the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act (2002), Part 5) reads:
"The Scottish Ministers may by order amend
subsection (1) of section 57 or paragraph (a) or (b) of subsection (2) of section 58 so as
to substitute for the number of years for the time being mentioned in the provision in
question such other number of years (not being a number which exceeds that being mentioned
in the provision as originally enacted) as may be specified in the order."
Campaign spokesman John Lister said the Golden Bulls were
meant to be lighthearted. "These are simply the most ludicrous examples we have found
during the year. Stodgy, long-winded writing is still wasting time and money and cheating
people of the chance to make an informed decision."
Recent research from Sage Research concluded that:
"Customers want user manuals written in
plain English and training manuals targeted to different roles in the organization,
a technical and non-technical training manual rather than one size fits all," Neal
says. At the same time, Web-based training resources are not easy to navigate and the
quality and understandability isn't up to what they need
The conclusions of the panel were that
- CRM vendors can greatly improve end-user training, and
- True integration costs with enterprise networks can
greatly affect return on investment (ROI) for CRM implementations.
Sage research director Chris Neal says panelists face a
"train the trainers" problem. That is, vendors come in and train a few in-house
people whose job it becomes to train the rest of the staff. Beyond the decay that occurs
when passing training downstream, CRM usage roles vary greatly between say, sales and
customer support and service.
Read the full transcript at www.sageresearch.com/CRM.html
UK Social Security Agency Write Guides in Plain
A to Z Guides to public services published by the UK
Social Security Agency won a national award from the Plain English Campaign with their Inside
The award was presented to staff in recognition of their
user-friendly way of communicating information about the benefits available to the public
and how to claim them.
The Chief Executive of the Social Security Agency, Chris
"Our Agency is very proud of this achievement. It is
an important recognition of the improvement in the quality of our customer information.
Public services can only really be fully accessed if the people know about them."
The Social Security Agency has been a member of the Plain
English Campaign since 2002.
is defined as language that the intended audience can understand and act upon from a
single reading. The A-Z guides can be read on the Social Security Agency website at www.ssani.gov.uk
Thomas Jefferson Complaints about Poor English
Popular complaint about legal language
has a long history.
Thomas Jefferson, the American architect
and lawyer, best remembered for his contribution to the US Declaration of Independence
complained in a letter to Joseph Cabell written in 1817 about lawyers who had a habit of:
"making every other word a
said or aforesaid and saying everything two or three times, so
that nobody but we of the craft can untwist the diction and find out what
Letters of Thomas Jefferson, pages
Western Mail Best Plain Speaking Newspaper
The Western Mail won the award for the most
plain-speaking regional newspaper in the prestigious Plain English Awards.
There are six categories in the media section, with
winners being chosen for both the clarity of their reporting and the work they do to
They said of the Welsh newspaper: "As one of the
biggest regional newspapers, the Western Mail staff must have a tough job keeping close to
"They achieve this by remembering the golden rule of
plain English journalism: news is about people as much as events and issues.
Improved Communication in
Healthcare making a
The National Institutes of Health has made strides in
improving communications, said Ann Brewer, the agencys plain language coordinator.
In Healthcare, it is critical communicate to the public
and the scientific community in a clear, understandable way.
To highlight the importance of effective communication, the National Institutes of Health
started a plain language award program in 1999.
Employees can enter writing samples and communications
projects in the competition. In the three years awards have been made, the number of
entries has increased to over 250 this year from 150 last year.
Previous winners included pamphlets on preventing complications of diabetes and a Web site
to keep patients informed on the latest medical research.
Money awaits small firms with well-written proposals
A University of Pittsburgh workshop that recently
discussed research funding for small businesses, pointed out the need for
accountants to write documents in clear, plain English.
The workshop stated that accountants should use
"Full, clear, plain English disclosure of important
financial information by reputable outside auditors who carry enough authority to certify
a company's financial without caving in to undue pressure from its management will become
the new standard."
Plain English Training for Lawyers
Professor Richard Wydick classic book on
legal writing, Plain English for Lawyers starts with a catalogue
of the problematic characteristics of legal writing:
"We lawyers do not write
plain English. We use eight words to say what could be said in two. We use arcane
phrases to express commonplace ideas. Seeking to be precise, we become redundant. Seeking
to be cautious, we become verbose. Our sentences twist on, phrase within clause within
clause, glazing the eyes and numbing the minds of our readers."
He adds that it is as if lawyers use all
their expertise to inflict optimal damage on the basic rules of grammar. Yet it must be
counter-intuitive to suggest that legal writing should do anything but follow the basic
laws of grammar.
Richard Wydick insists that "good
legal writing should not differ, without good reason, from ordinary, well-written English."
So how have we ended up with a situation in which disregard of these basic rules qualifies