Did you know that, according to a 2013 ABS study, 44% of Australian adults have difficulty reading and writing?

When we write information things have a tendency to get a bit long and complicated. After all, we have a lot to say! But if you don’t want to miss out on reaching 44% of your audience, it’s time to say it simply.

Think about this paragraph:

Development and support with daily living and life skills
Development of daily living and life skills focusing on training, and where appropriate ongoing support, for an individual or their carer to increase their ability to live as autonomously as possible. Training can include skills development and support with daily life activities, personal care, communication, shopping, cooking
and cleaning.

The complex writing style makes these two sentences difficult to understand even if you don’t have trouble reading.

Here are some simple steps from our style guide to remedy complex language.

1. Keep language familiar.
Choose words based on everyday spoken language. Words like ‘autonomously’ are hard words.

2. Use short simple sentences.
Avoid lengthy sentences with lots of commas.

3. Use lists.
Bullet points or number lists can be useful to simplify language and help the reader identify key points.

4. Be direct.
Address the reader as ‘you’. This clarifies how information relates to the reader.

When these strategies were used on our example paragraph, this is what we came up with:

Daily living support will help you
• live on your own
• be part of the community.

Daily living support can help you learn
skills to
• communicate
• shop
• cook
• clean
• do personal care.

Much clearer!

If you would like to know more about making your information accessible, contact Scope’s Communication and Inclusion Resource Centre (CIRC) at circ@scopeaust.org.au or 03 9843 2000.