Write For Your Reader The Northwest Territories Literacy Council
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A Plain Language Handbook

Use simple, short, clear words.

Choose everyday words with 1 or 2 syllables if possible. Avoid jargon, chains of nouns, and double negatives.
Change or take out wordy phrases.
Choose concrete not abstract words.
Use contractions such as don’t and we’ll.
Use possessive ’s or s’ endings.
Define technical terms or leave them out.
Identify acronyms in the text.

Write this: Not this:
present not absent
in the event that
he won’t
he will not
department’s policy policy of the department

The Alternate Word and Phrase List on page 35 has examples of simple, short, clear words to replace complex, long, abstract words or phrases.

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