It’s (almost) all in the presentation

tipsProducing or adapting print materials for your public legal education and information (PLE) project? Remember that choosing language that your audience will understand is only part of your job when producing information. You also have to make sure it’s presented in a logical way, so that it’s clear and easy to understand. Otherwise, all the hard work you’ve put into making your PLE materials clear could be wasted.

Here are some tips to help you present the information you produce in a clear and accessible way:

  • Organize from your audience’s point of view. Deal with the issues in the same order that your audience will have to. For example, if you’re writing information for tenants about eviction, don’t discuss this in the order it appears in the Residential Tenancies Act. Start from the point of view of the tenant who’s gotten some kind of notice from the landlord. And describe the steps that the tenant has to take if they don’t want to move out.
  • Use lots of clear headings and subheadings. Using heading makes it easier for people to find what they need and breaks up the text into shorter paragraphs. Headings need to be clear so that people know what the text underneath is about. In each heading, include as much information as you can about what’s coming up.
  • Repeat what’s important. Remember that people might not read all the information at once. They might just scan for the answer to a particular question. This is especially true with online information. So you may need to repeat something that’s very important, or point people to where it is, to make sure they don’t miss it.

See CLEO’s Better Legal Information Handbook for more information on preparing clear language PLE materials.

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