Before-and-After StyleWriter Samples:
Regulations need to be accurate, clear and precise. However, the law is rarely simple. We’re frequently faced with laws that are complex, packed with qualifications and conditions and full of arcane language.
Writing clear regulations isn’t easy. To do it successfully, you have to take a fresh look at the way you approach the task. This may mean unlearning what you’ve picked up over the years about how “official” writing looks. It means putting yourself in your readers’ place and questioning how well you’ve structured and written the regulation to meet their needs.
If you write regulations or other legal documents, try to write in plain English. StyleWriter will help you to write in plain English, but you must commit yourself to clear writing. It's not always easy to explain complex ideas simply but if you do, you will save many people time, money and frustration.
Before Editing with StyleWriter
Click on the image below to see the original sample government regulation
After Editing with StyleWriter
Click on the image below to see the same sample government regulation edited with StyleWriter
The average sentence is above the recommended length of 15 to 20 words because we are only analyzing one sentence. To get a representative average, the minimum document length for the statistics is around 200 words.
Here are some suggestions to help you redraft your regulations into good, readable language that readers can understand.
- Summarize the regulation’s purpose.
- State whom the regulation affects.
- Organize your information.
- Order your information logically and to suit your readers
- Make your headings do something for the readers.
- Keep your paragraphs under control.
- Keep cross-references to a minimum.
- Avoid signpost language.
- Avoid legal words and phrases.
- Avoid foreign words and obscure terms.
- Use active verbs.
- Use plain words.
- Use concrete words and examples.
- Use command verbs.
- Use the present tense.
- Avoid shall.
- Cut long sentences.
- Use topic sentences.
- Use normal punctuation.
- Use bullet points and numbering to break up long sentences or paragraphs.
- Cut out wordy phrases.
- Use personal pronouns such as you, we, your, our.
- Make your structure reflect the readers’ needs – not yours.
- Imagine a typical reader trying to understand your wording.
- Use questions as headings such as: How does this affect me?
- Keep to the principles of plain English.
- Test your draft on a non-legal audience
- Don’t let a lawyer redraft your clear style into legalese
To guarantee all your regulations are in clear, concise and easy-to-read English, use StyleWriter.