Check that you're writing at a grade 6-9 reading level. Need to lower the reading level? Use these tips:
Write shorter sentences
Sentences that scan many lines are hard to read--especially on the go!
- Want to use a semi-colon? Make it a period instead.
- Have a long list of examples? only use three.
- Really need to list more items? Try formatting it as a bulled list.
Use shorter words
Short words are easier to scan. They are also more easily understood— both by humans and machines (like online translators and search engines). For example:
- "use" not "utilize"
- "help" not "benefit"
- "clear" not "apparent"
Write in the active voice
As our friends at plainlanguage.gov point out:
- Active voice makes it clear who is supposed to do what. It removes all ambiguity about who is responsible.
- Not “It must be done,” but “You must do it.”
- Passive voice hides who is responsible for what.
- It's one of the biggest problems with government writing.
- Finally, don’t confuse "passive voice" with "past tense."
Tips for writing in the active voice
Remove as many uses of "to be" as you can:
- "Subway rats adore pizza," not "Pizza is adored by subway rats"
- "Teachers take attendance," not "Attendance is taken by teachers"
Sometimes you have to change the word order:
- "DOE staff make accessible documents," not " Documents have been ensured to be accessible by DOE staff"
You can scan subheads to find the information you need--and skip over what you don't. Without them:
- you work a lot harder to find what you need on the page
- if you need a screen reader, you can't scan it at all. Instead, you have to read every word on the page.
- specific details
as bullet points make them easier to scan and read. That's probably why it also lowers the reading level.