How to write in plain English by Harvard School of Public Health

Clear and to the point – writing in plain English.

Summary:
a) Use common, everyday words

b) Use “you” and other
personal pronouns

c) Use “must” instead of
“shall”

d) Avoid using undefined technical
terms

e) Use positive rather than negative
words

f) Avoid using gender-specific
terminology

g) Avoid long strings of nouns

Verb Forms:
h) Use active voice

i) Use action verbs

j) Use the present tense

Structure:
k) Use parallel construction

l) Be direct

m) Avoid using unnecessary exceptions

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