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Writing Clearly and Simply.docx - Writing Clearly and...

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Writing Clearly and SimplyIs itPossibleto Write "Clearly and Simply"?The task of writing clearly and simply has never been either clear or simple. In fact, itcan be one of the most difficult of all writing tasks. Clear and simple writing is an artto which many aspire and few achieve. Even so, the understandability of webcontent depends upon clear and simple writing. Unclear or confusing writing is anaccessibility barrier to all readers, but can be especially difficult for people withreading disorders or cognitive disabilities."My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way."--Ernest Hemingway"Unless one is a genius, it is best to aim at being intelligible."--Anthony Hope HawkinsLanguage and cultural differences matter.To complicate matters, the "rules" ofclear and simple writing in English may not apply at all in other languages, or evenbetween cultures that speak the same language. Many English-speaking countriesvalue directness and explicitness in written communication. Other cultures feel thatthis style is too blunt, and perhaps even insulting to readers.Despite the difficulties in defining the meaning of "clear and simple" writing, thesuggestions in this section may still benefit writers of web content. The suggestionsserve as general guidelines for writing clear and simple English, primarily from anAmerican English perspective. Those who write in other languages should seekresources that apply specifically to those languages.Cognitive abilities matter.Not everyone reads at the same level or has the abilityto understand text content, even when presented clearly and simply. Readingdisorders, memory disorders, attention deficit disorders, and other conditions whichaffect the brain's cognitive processes can compromise a person's ability to benefitfrom text. The guidelines presented below will improve readability for many people,but not for all.General GuidelinesThe guidelines presented here are not a complete list, nor do they apply to everysituation, but they are a good starting point. Writers who take these guidelinesseriously are more likely to write clearly and simply.1. Organize your ideas into a logical outline--before andduring the writing processThis may be the most important guideline of all. You have to think clearly about atopic in order to communicate it clearly. The organization process is ongoing, startingbefore any words are written and continuing throughout the entire process. There is
nothing wrong with reorganizing a paper as you write it. When you think you'refinished, take the opportunity to analyze it one more time to see if the organizationstill makes sense to you. If it does, great! If not, try again!Here are some thoughts by accomplished writers about the need to organize ideas:"If any man wishes to write in a clear style, let him first be clear in his thoughts."--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe"Writing comes more easily if you have something to say."--Sholem Asch

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