6 steps to make your writing more accessible
Last week I spoke about formatting your documents to make them more accessible to certain groups such as those with dyslexia and visual impairment, this week I go into more detail about language and writing styles.
By making a few simple changes to the way you write, you can open up your work to engage a much wider audience. The following tips will make your writing easier for everyone to read.
1) Be concise
Get straight to your point and avoid waffle. Avoid using long paragraphs and keep your sentences short and direct.
2) Break it down
Using bullet points and numbering rather than continuous prose makes your text easier for your readers to digest; they can
help to highlight important information,
improve the overall readability of the whole document, and
make it easier skip back to something later.
3) Use images, infographics and flowcharts
Images and infographics can really help readers to understand what you're telling them. Infographics, in particular, are a great way to give clarity to a set of instructions (think of all the Covid posters showing you how to wash your hands in three easy steps), they tell a great visual story (many people are visual learners) and they are easily digestible.
Like infographics, flowcharts are another simple way of breaking down steps in a process or set of instructions without using big chunks of text.
4) Use active rather than passive voice
Active voice is clear and direct, and sentences written in active voice add impact to your writing. While it is not incorrect, writing using the passive voice can appear more vague and can, therefore, leave the reader unsure of your meaning.
5) Don't use double negatives
Using double negatives in a sentence just adds one more layer of confusion to your reader. If someone has to read, then re-read and then re-read again, it's likely they will just give up and move on, or misunderstand your message altogether.
6) Provide a glossary of terms
Avoid using jargon and abbreviations where possible, and if you absolutely have to use them, include a glossary to help the reader understand any uncommon or specialised terms and any abbreviations used.
If you do use abbreviations or acronyms in your text, always provide the expanded form the first time you use it and give the abbreviation or acronym in brackets.
One of the things that I check when proofreading marketing materials and other public facing documents is how accessible your text is for readers with learning disabilities and visual impairment. If you need help with any of the above, or need a professional to check the accessibility of your document, please get in touch.
Read last week's post to make your documents even clearer with some small tweaks to your formatting style.