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Guidance on Writing in Plain English

insect warfare

QA=Question Authority
Anyone ever run into this document before? Of particular importance to me is Part B, which has a lot of good guidance on writing clear and concise work method statements, but this information is still just as applicable to those writing management system procedures (work instructions, procedures, etc.). I naturally employ a lot of these rules when creating my work so it is as tight as possible, by minimizing or eliminating duplication, and reducing wordiness to an acceptable level.

Thought I would share with the rest of you....

Brian :rolleyes:
Not seen it before (probably because it's Australian) and it seems OK. I don't like the format of the "proforma" they use. It appears to be too bureaucratic to me.
Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

I am so pleased to see "write in the active voice."

For some reason (perhaps using old and obsolete materials to learn), English as a Second Language (ESL) folks seem especially prone to use passive voice sentence constructions.

The second most frequent obstacle folks encounter is the use of the third person (he/she/they) versus the second person [implied.]

Thus, instead of writing
"The operator must first turn on the machine."
"Turn on the machine." (the "you" is implied as if we wrote
"You turn on the machine.")

In the 80s and 90s, the majority of big honkin' Quality Manuals were written in the third person impersonal:
"The company turns on the machine."


In the 80s and 90s, the majority of big honkin' Quality Manuals were written in the third person impersonal:
"The company turns on the machine."
Active voice writing seems to have become a lost art during my generation ("GenX"). I always tell people, "Write it you would speak it."

Sadly, for some people, this may not be the best advice either.


Involved In Discussions
When I saw the title of this thread I immediately thought of that document. It was a big help to me when I started writing procedures. (I tend to get incredibly formal when I write).

And the best advice I've had in avoiding the passive voice- if you can add the words 'by zombies' after the verb, you're doing it wrong.

The machine is turned on (by zombies)

Paperwork should then be filed (by zombies)

Forklift key must be removed (by zombies) when not in use.
Equally important is the ability to use simple words
Not so much "simple' as "appropriate" words. Don't dumb it down to "boy/girl; dog/cat" simple, and if you MUST use an acronym ("ASAP") immediately break it down ("As Soon As Possible")

No one likes being treated as if he were a child or an idiot, incapable of understanding a polysyllabic (words of more than one syllable) word when used in context. If the jargon is used to familiarize with what one might encounter in the workplace, then define it the first time it appears in print.
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