Tips

  • Entering the world of plain language

    I’m fully convinced of the value of making legal, health, and other forms of public information as clear and easy to understand as possible. Through this blog post, I want to share with you some of the ways I stay up to date. And invite you to get more involved in the plain language world.

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  • A clear design checklist

    Using design principles can make your content – whether you’re working on a flyer to promote an event, or legal information to share with your community – more compelling and easier to understand.

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  • Lessons learned at local libraries

    If library staff do not understand the difference between legal information and legal advice, they will be very reluctant to provide legal information and referrals to patrons.

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  • Don’t get lost in translation

    Would you like to make some of your public legal education and information materials available in languages other than English? It’s important to identify priority languages, especially if you have limited resources.

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  • Still looking for the right words?

    Do you prepare public legal education and information materials in writing? Here are some plain language tools that might help you with your work.

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  • A “keep it simple” thesaurus

    We were pleased to learn that Clear Language and Design (CLAD), a Toronto organization that provides clear language training and assessment services, recently published a new free resource on their website – a clear language thesaurus.

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  • Is your content readable?

    When producing information for the public, it’s important to choose the language level that’s most easily understood by your target audience.

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  • Making your text accessible

    The jury’s still out on whether fonts like Dyslexie improve legibility on a wider level – but it’s clear that formatting changes can make a big difference.

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  • Fewer words for the wise

    Less is usually more. We’ve said that many times here, but it’s a principle that can be hard to stick to, especially when you’re busy trying to decode confusing and complicated information for your clients on a daily basis.

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  • It’s (almost) all in the presentation

    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.

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  • Writing for English language learners

    When you’re preparing public legal education and information materials, it’s important to remember that much of what we consider “everyday English” can be confusing for people who are not native English speakers.

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  • Survey savvy

    Surveys and questionnaires are cost-effective tools to assess public legal education and information (PLE) needs in your community or to evaluate a training session. However, any survey is only as valuable as the number of responses you get from it.

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  • Advice about acronyms

    Did you know that the word “laser” started off as an acronym for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation”?

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  • Put your materials to the test

    The best way to find out if your information will be useful to your target audience is to “field test” it – or ask them what they think of it before you complete the project. No room in your budget to hire a company to run focus groups? Here are some suggestions for cheap and cheerful ways to test your PLE materials.

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  • Case in point

    Are you preparing public legal education (PLE) print materials? Consider including stories about people – case studies – to help introduce common legal situations in a way that your audience can identify with.

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  • The essence of evaluations

    Just when you thought all the hard work on your public legal education and information (PLE) project was done – now it’s time to evaluate your work. It can be easy to see evaluation as only a bureaucratic chore – perhaps because funders often base funding decisions on program outcomes. However, evaluation is not just […]

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  • Getting rid of jargon

    It can be easy to slip into using jargon when writing public legal education and information materials – especially when you are exposed to it through your daily work. However, jargon can make your information hard to understand for many readers.

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  • Training the trainers – tried and true strategies

    Are you embarking on training community workers for the first time? Or, need some ideas as to how to promote and deliver your current training sessions to new groups?

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  • Using media to promote your message

    Producing public legal education and information (PLE) materials is hard work. But your PLE still needs to be promoted and distributed. Picking the medium or media that your audience is most likely to access can make all the difference.

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  • Too much information?

    A lot of legal information focuses on what the law says and doesn’t really tell people what they need to know about the topic. Think about what most members of your target audience need to know, and let these guide you in deciding what basic information to include.

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  • Let’s get active!

    Ever hear the expression “less is more”? When writing public legal educational materials, that is often a good thing to keep in mind.

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  • Writing for different regions

    When preparing public legal educational (PLE) materials, it’s important to be aware of differences in provincial and territorial laws and procedures, as well as variations in the names of government departments or other organizations.

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  • The value of take-home information

    There is a vast amount of online legal information out there, and studies from many sectors show that more people are accessing information online. So is print material still useful?

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  • It’s not all fun and games – or is it?

    Do you like playing Sudoku? Or, ever remember making an origami paper fortune teller when you were a kid?

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  • Giving more weight to your words

    Use emphasis in your printed PLE materials to highlight the most important pieces of information you’d like to convey to your readers. Too much emphasis, however, CAN BE A BAD THING!!!

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  • Coast(er)ing to success

    Do you need a new approach to get your organization’s name and message out there?

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  • Numbers – to use or not to use?

    Does “4/1/14” refer to “April 1, 2014” or “January 4, 2014”? If you’re not sure, readers of your printed materials won’t be, either.

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  • What’s in a tone?

    Have you ever come across the problem in social media or email where someone misunderstood what you were trying to say because they couldn’t hear the humour in your “voice”?

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