Don’t accept a broken document

If you cannot easily read and understand a document or website, it is broken. Don’t accept it. Don’t be pressured to sign it, agree to it or use it.

A business or government document is an information product. You would not put up with a car that doesn’t run, or a chair that falls over. Neither should you accept an information product that does not perform its designed function.

Business and government documents and websites are designed to convey information that people need to act on. Fact sheets, contracts, agreements, advice letters all perform a function – they are designed to do something. So they need to work, and work well.

We should rightly expect information products to be easy to use, just like any other well designed product. You should be able to read the document easily and extract the information you need quickly. Do not think you are stupid if you can’t – it’s likely the fault of the document.

So what could you do when you encounter a difficult document? Ask the document owner to rework the information product so that it is easy to use. Push back. Demand to understand!

plainlanguagepro.org is certifying documents, guaranteeing they are written plainly and easy to use.

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