Good Writing for Everyone
How many times do you communicate every day? In texts, emails, documents, messaging apps, form fields, agendas, RFPs, meeting notes, and even entering data — we all share ideas, issue instructions, deliver updates, and develop strategies in writing.
The words we choose inform our colleagues and advance our work. This sounds simple and obvious, but how often have you been confused or hindered by ambiguous writing? Time can be lost deciphering the writer’s meaning. Poor communication can lead you in the wrong direction, create misunderstandings, or cause errors.
Here are some tips for clear writing:
- Consider your audience. Are they subject matter experts familiar with technical terms, or does your message need to be understood by a more general population? A Global Mobility team may communicate with SMEs across departments but also need to share quick, clear messaging with assignees.
- Use the same terminology throughout various forms of communication. Be consistent when naming a product, service, or component so that everyone knows what you are talking about, no matter what part of the process they are involved with.
- Keep in mind that not everyone is fluent in your language. Avoid idioms and cliches that can literally be lost in translation. Also allow for assists like machine readers for the visually impaired. Precise word choice and correct punctuation help clearly articulate your message.
- Do a quick scan before sending e-communication with spell-check, which can sometimes erroneously auto-correct and alter your message. Especially if you use industry terms, these can be “corrected” and garble your meaning.
Guides and tools that help us write clearly are plentiful. Government-sponsored plainlanguage.gov, CDC Clear Writing Hub, and Plain English Campaign are just a few sites that aim to help us communicate better. You can also try tools like WebFX’s Readability Test to assess your content. This can be useful if you’re writing policies or other company documents that need to be understood by many and stand the test of time.
Living Abroad’s Content Team has unique experience writing specifically for a globally mobile audience. We constantly strive to improve our content – its value to you, its ease of use, and its clarity regardless of your native language.
Written by Ellen Harris, Product Manager, Content Group