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Guide the Reader through the Information

  • Who is my audience?
  • What does my audience already know about the subject?
  • What does my audience need to know?
  • What questions will my audience have?
  • What is the best outcome for my agency? What do I need to say to get this outcome?
  • What is the best outcome for the audience?  What do I need to say to get this outcome?

Active Voice

Use a standard [subject] [verb] [object] sentence

Personal Pronouns

Specifies who you are addressing in the sentence

Concise Sentences and Paragraphs

  • The average sentence length should be approximately 15 to 20 words
  • The average paragraph should have one topic sentence and develop one idea
  • Start with the main idea, then cover exceptions and conditions

Simplify Complex Information

  • Lists make it easier for the reader to identify the order of all items or steps in a process
  • Headings reveal the text’s organization
  • Headings are categorized as question, statement, or topic types
  • Tables/charts visualize data

Transition Words

  • Tells the audience whether the paragraph expands on the preceding paragraph, contrasts it, or takes it in a new direction
  • Transition words are categorized as pointing words, echo links, or explicit connective types

Define Uncommon Terms

  • Define uncommon terms (including acronyms upon first use) and use the same terms consistently
  • Use concrete and familiar verbiage when possible

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future