Writing for Low-Literacy Readers

With the increase in the use of mass-distribution paper documents and electronic media, such as the Web and email, business documents are now available to low-literacy readers in the public and inside our own organizations. These readers often struggle with writing that the average business reader understands easily.

This two-day course gives writers the skills to adjust their business style to the needs of low-literacy readers. Through examples and practical exercises, participants use a checklist to ensure documents for this audience are clear, uncluttered on the page or screen, and easy to read.

We recommend that participants bring to the class their own writing samples to use the checklist on their own subject matter. We can also customize the materials to include examples of your organization’s documents.

Who Should Attend
Writers of documents for readers in the general public or within your own organization who must understand important content, such as the following:

  • health guidelines,warnings, information on prescription drugs or nutrition
  • financial material for personal finances, taxes, insurance and mortgages
  • procedures for using computers and other equipment

Course Topics
This two-day workshop includes the following topics to help low-literacy readers understand your documents:

  • traits and habits of the low-literacy reader
  • structural considerations for page layout
  • DOs and DON’Ts for website links and page headings
  • tips for plain language adapted specifically to low-literacy readers
  • models for strong paragraph structure
  • optimum sentence length and structure
  • straight-ahead prose, free of verbal roadblocks
  • phrases that make for stumbling blocks

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