Monthly Archives: October 2013

The Style Guide Every Plain Language Technical Writer Needs

Forget the Microsoft Manual of Style. Forget Sun Microsystem’s Read Me First! I recently came across John R. Kohl’s The Global English Style Guide: Writing Clear, Translatable Documentation for a Global Market, and it is now my only resource for questions of grammar, style, and clarity in plain-language writing. Kohl wrote the book for “anyone who uses written English to communicate technical information to a global audience,” but his “global English” principles, which he developed to make the process of machine- or human-translation of documentation more efficient, echo many plain-language principles. Although I don’t agree with everything the author says in the book, I find so much of it valuable …

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Meet Plain Language: My Post on the STC’s Blog Notebook

I’ve begun blogging monthly–about plain language, natch–on the STC’s blog site Notebook. Read my first post here. (http://notebook.stc.org/plainly-speaking-meet-plain-language/)

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Thinking about Writing: It’s Confused (and Opinionated)

I spent an hour on hold with the phone company the other day. One of the advertisements I endured during my wait talked about the company’s high-speed Internet services. “You can download a standard-length song is as little as two seconds,” said the voice, “your favorite TV shows in as few as two minutes, and a full movie in as little as six.” As little as…as few as…as little as…. These shifting modifiers serve no purpose. What were the writers thinking? I’ve called this series of posts Thinking about Writing because when I started analyzing why text works or doesn’t work, I realized that most mistakes in writing result not …

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