Friday, January 28, 2011

ID Doc's comment on Plain English is greek to some

This article brings to light some of the problems and challenges with the understandability of financial documents. The new requirements while a good start as  plain language experts, Annetta Cheek and Joe Kimble have said, I would like to expand upon one area that Joe touched on. As an information design and clear communications expert, I employ plain language in all of my work (mostly financial statements and forms) but I need to stress the importance of other aspects of clear communications such as readable fonts, points sizes large enough, but not to large, for comfortable reading, proper use of white space within the document and a clear hierarchy of information. For example, text written in all capital letters has been proven to be hard to read and slows down the process of getting through a document. While underlining seems to be a way of emphasis, it dates back to typewriters when it was the main way stress important information. In today's world we can use other techniques like larger point sizes and bolding for emphasis. Besides, in today's world, underlining often means a link to another page in the internet. Another issue is the audience. For most documents, there are multiple audiences. The document should be able to comfortably address all audiences.