Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Clear, concise, and effective English for law students, bar examinees, and legal writers in organizations, private companies, and government offices (21): Plain Language guidelines from government regulatory offices

Australian Securities and Investment Commission: “Regulatory Guide 228 Prospectuses: Effective disclosure for retail investors” (November 2011)

Use the active voice
Use direct language (personal pronouns)
Use the positive and avoid double negatives
Use verbs rather than nouns, where possible
Avoid overusing definitions
Choose simple words for definitions
Avoid including additional content in definitions and using the defined term within the definition
Avoid jargon, where possible
Use short sentences
Use industry accepted terms
Tailor boilerplate text; omit it where possible
Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission: “How to create clear announcements”
Use commonsense names and abbreviations
Don’t use excessive definitions
Use shorter sentences
Prefer the active voice
Avoid hidden verbs
Use simple, common words, not jargon and legalese
Prefer the positive to the negative
Design your document with your reader in mind
Malaysia Securities Commission: “Plain Language Guide for Prospectuses” (2005)
Use personal pronouns
Draft clear and concise sentences
Use common everyday words
Avoid superfluous words
Use active voice
Change nouns to verbs
Use less legal and financial jargon
Use positive sentences and not multiple negatives
Use defined terms sparingly
Use an effective layout
New Zealand Financial Markets Authority: “Guidance Note: Effective Disclosure” (June 2012)
Use the active voice
Use pronouns not labels
Avoid double negatives
Use definitions effectively
Do not use jargon unnecessarily
Use short sentences
Ensure layout assists users
Use navigation tools and a well considered structure
Use page numbering
Present important information prominently
British Columbia Securities Commission: “Plain Language Style Guide”(March 2008)
Lean language
Active voice
Regular and reasonable language
Image-evoking, concrete and specific
Tight organization
You and your audience
US Securities Commission: “How to create clear SEC disclosure documents” (1998)
Use the active voice with strong verbs
Don’t ban the passive voice, use it sparingly
Find hidden verbs
Try personal pronouns
Bring abstractions down to earth
Omit superfluous words
Write in the “positive”
Use short sentences
Replace jargon and legalese with short, common words
Keep the subject, verb, and object close together
Write using “if-then” conditionals
Keep your sentence structure parallel
Steer clear of “respectively”

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