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

Use an active writing style.

Use a simple form to write your sentences:

Subject – Verb – Object.
Make sure the subject of your sentence is the person or thing that does the action.

Write: ‘The government decided...’
Not: ‘It was decided by government...’
Speak directly to your reader.

Write: ‘If you need help...’
Not: ‘People who require assistance...’
Look for nouns that can be changed to verbs and rewrite the sentence. The sentence changes from a passive to an active style. The sentence is usually shorter.

Write: ‘We’ll notify you...’
Not: ‘You will receive notification...’
The Nouns to Verbs List on page 45 has more examples.
Write short sentences with just one idea in each sentence.
Write sentences with no more than 20 to 25 words. Mix short sentences with longer ones.
If a sentence has more than one idea, break it into shorter sentences.

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