Writing

Webinar Recap: Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN) June Meeting

Jun 30, 2017 |

This month’s Plain Language of Community Practice meeting featured Katherine Spivey’s presentation, Plain Language Spectrum: Every Step Counts! In this highly useful DigitalGov University (DGU) webinar, she explains how you can move forward with plain language even when you don’t have permission to edit copy, followed by a half hour Q & A session. Many Read »

Build Your Audience by Hosting a Twitter Chat

May 1, 2017 |

Twitter is more than just a platform for sharing news and updates: it can be a tool for directly communicating with your community and understanding what is important to them. One way you can connect with your Twitter audience is by hosting a Twitter Chat. They can be a good way to discuss key topics, Read »

Writing for the Web Is Easy. Writing for Users Is Not.

Nov 7, 2016 | , ,

We all do it. Whether on Twitter, Facebook, or the comment section on a news article, it’s easy to get our writing on the internet. Many of us have personal websites or contribute to blogs. We work at organizations with content management systems that allow us to publish pages with a single button click. The Read »

The Content Corner: Will You Read This Entire Post?

Apr 11, 2016 |

Deep down we’ve always known that people only read a small portion of any content shared online. In many ways that can’t be fixed but there are ways to help people read more or at least scan better. There was a book I loved as a child that featured the Sesame Street character Grover, titled Read »

Transcreation: Why Do We Need It?

Apr 8, 2016 |

Transcreation is a relatively new term that blends the words translation and creation. In a nutshell, transcreation involves taking a concept in one language and completely recreating it in another language. A successfully transcreated message (either written or visual) evokes the same emotions and carries the same implications in the target language as it does Read »

The Content Corner: Four Ways to Help Your Content Stand Out

Feb 1, 2016 |

When discussing trends for 2016, I made some mention of the content overload that started in 2015 but will certainly increase in 2016. Contently recently found that organizations created 73% more content in 2015 than in 2014. I see no reason why that number will decline in 2016, especially as content becomes the beast of Read »

Good Content Needs Plain Language

Dec 23, 2015 |

If good content is essential to good user experience, as Tyrus Manuel proposes in his November 23, 2015, DigitalGov post, then plain language is also part of good user experience. Plain language helps the public do what they need to do—find forms, apply for benefits, look up information and more—when they use federal websites and other Read »

The Content Corner: Is Pair Writing Right for You?

Dec 14, 2015 |

Fresh from last week’s article about workflows and their importance in the content creation process, I stumbled upon a new twist in content production known as pair writing. Many of you familiar with agile methodologies or software programming in general should know the term pair programming. Pair writing hopes to take some of the same Read »

Getting Serious About Good Writing—EIA’s Write Right Curriculum

Dec 11, 2015 |

Let’s see–you want to improve the skills of your agency’s writers. Here’s a to-do list: Enlist a high-level champion, ideally your agency head, to make statements saying writing skills are critical—check. Create a Writing Style Guide—check. Hold classes to introduce the Style Guide—check. Expand internal editing resources—check. But what’s next? If you really want to Read »

Roadmap for Creating a Writing Style Guide: One Step at a Time

Nov 20, 2015 |

So, you’re tired of seeing little (or big!) errors on your agency’s website, and you flinch at the random writing styles. You feel like your agency’s content is good, but there are still too many inconsistencies. What you need is an agency Writing Style Guide. A good guide can set styles that improve your agency’s Read »

Technical Writing Need Not Be Abstruse—Use Plain Language for Maximum Impact

Oct 23, 2015 |

Author writes: Additionally, the method utilized a myriad of factors for the purpose of incentivizing production to hit record-high levels of magnitude in the equivalent time period. Author thinks: My work sounds serious, impressive and interesting. Reader thinks: Huh? Technical writers are great—some of my favorite colleagues are technical writers. But technical writers often need Read »

Income Scams Are Subject of New FTC Fotonovela

Oct 14, 2015 |

The FTC’s second Spanish-language fotonovela is about scams that promise you can make money selling high-end products or brand-name merchandise. If the pitch sounds familiar, that’s because the story is based on facts from a recent [Federal Trade Commission] FTC lawsuit against a Read »

Using Plain Language to Write for the Web

Sep 16, 2015 |

Plain language will make you a better writer. For federal employees, it’s also the law. On September 9th, Katherine Spivey, Co-Chair of the Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN), presented a webinar on plain writing principles and how to apply them to Web writing. She also addressed how federal writers can comply with the Read »

The Content Corner: Should You Stop Writing and Start Podcasting?

Sep 14, 2015 |

Several months or so ago, I raised the question of whether you and your agency should be podcasting. Incidentally, my post coincided with the launch of DigitalGov’s new podcast series. As I discussed in my previous post, the long-niche broadcasting format has continued to grow in popularity and success with popular podcasts such as NPR’s Serial and Read »

FAQs Done Right

Sep 4, 2015 |

In the circle of Web content life, FAQ sections are an endangered species. We’ve previously discussed the relevance of FAQs: Should FAQs go extinct, or are they a useful tool in your content ecosystem? Kathryn Catania, Chief of the Plain Language and Content Division at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, encourages agencies to take Read »

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