Designing Inclusive Images and Words

FOCUS AREA ONE
Writing in Plain Language (Part Two)

Deepening Your Understanding

WORD CHOICE

Plain Language Over Jargon

Jargon includes legal, technical, and governmental words which can be confusing to a general audience (Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2015). In order to write in plain language, use terms that are commonly used.

For example:

Navigating with your DSLR, snap a shot.

In plain language, this sentence would read:

Take a picture with your camera.

Verbs Over Nouns

Try to keep the language you are using straightforward by using verbs in the simple present tense.

Future Continuous Tense:

When you are going to be watching a Blue Jays game, you can turn on the captions.

Simple Present Tense:

When you watch a Blue Jays game, you can turn on the captions.

SENTENCE STRUCTURE

Simple Sentences

Try to use the most direct sentence structure. In English, the simple sentence is Subject + Verb + Object.

Simple Sentences:

I have a radio show. I like to interview celebrities.

Here the subject is “I.” The verbs are “have” and “like.” The objects are “radio show” and “celebrities.”

Complex Sentence:

Interviewing celebrities is one of the main things I like to do on my radio show.

Active Voice Over Passive Voice

Passive voice is when the subject or “doer” of a sentence is removed or de-emphasized. Sentences no longer follow the simple sentence structure with passive voice. Instead, the object takes the place of the subject at the beginning of a sentence.

Example of passive voice:

Sometimes passive voice is used to avoid emphasizing the subject of a sentence.

Example of active voice:

Sometimes people use passive voice to avoid emphasizing the subject of a sentence.

illustration of gears in motion

Task

Try translating this paragraph into plain language. When you are finished, click to reveal a plain language version.

Jargon:

For today's newscast we will need all OTS gfx ready by 1630. As well, LU Ed and Prod want to eyeball all scripts. All viz should be packaged in ES51 by 1600. Sr Prod and Anchr to vet all copy before air. Tx.

Please fill in the textarea

Here is the same paragraph written in plain language:

For today's newscast, we will need all over-the-shoulder graphics used in the newscast ready by 4:30 p.m. As well, the Lineup Editor and the Producer want to review all written material for the newscast. All video images should be edited into a completed format in Edit Suite #51 by 4 p.m. Before the show goes to air, the Senior Producer and the news anchor will read over and approve everything. Thank you.

Right answer: For today's newscast, we will need all over-the-shoulder graphics used in the newscast ready by 4:30 p.m. As well, the Lineup Editor and the Producer want to review all written material for the newscast. All video images should be edited into a completed format in Edit Suite #51 by 4 p.m. Before the show goes to air, the Senior Producer and the news anchor will read over and approve everything. Thank you.