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Make It Readable

You could make your document visually stimulating, but if the language is too difficult, no one will want to read it. Here are a few techniques for readability:

  • Keep language short and sweet: If you can say something in fewer words, do it. It takes practice and good editing to write this way. Do the best you can to make your writing clear and concise.
  • Keep sentences and paragraphs short: Sentences should be no more than 20 words, and paragraphs should be no more than four short sentences.
  • Make the language appropriate for the audience: Find ways to increase clarity without insulting your audience’s intelligence. If you are writing for the general public, you must write at no more than a 6th grade level. Even for many advanced and educated audiences, your language should generally be more than a 9th grade level. This means you should try to replace certain words with simpler words. For instance, instead of saying “facilitate,” say “help.” Instead of saying “physician,” say “doctor.”
  • Avoid jargon or technical language: Even if you are communicating with people who “should” understand certain language, such as medical terminology, don’t assume the language will be clear to everyone. Maybe there will be outsiders who read the document, or maybe the individual is new or has simply forgotten that “hemorrhage” means “bleeding.” The general rule is: if you can say it in a simpler way, do it.  

Even if you are the greatest writer and editor in the world, you will make mistakes and leave room for improvement. Always get someone to edit your work.

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rev. 04-Aug-2022




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This website is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of the Emergency Medical Services for Children Data Center award totaling $3,200,000 with 0% financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit HRSA.gov.

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