Writing

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 »

The Content Corner: Optimize Your Content

Aug 31, 2015 |

For the past several weeks, I have been writing about fairly cerebral and more technical aspects of content generation and language in general. This week, I felt it was time to get back to a more basic content concept: content optimization. Frequently when content optimization is discussed it is heavily focused on search engine optimization Read »

18F’s Style Guide for Open Source Project Documentation

Aug 3, 2015 |

We routinely publish our best practices in the 18F Guides, and today we’re happy to launch a new one: the 18F Open Source Style Guide. The Open Source Style Guide is a comprehensive handbook for writing clear, accessible, and user-friendly documentation so that Read »

Get Out of the Jargon Trap: Plain Language Training Can Help

Aug 15, 2014 |

The Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN) is the official federal working group designated to help agencies with plain language, including training. PLAIN offers free 3.5-hour classes in the principles of plain language and plain language for Web writing. Read »

Social Media: Accessibility Issues and Solutions

Jun 30, 2014 |

The more public information is digitized, the more it lands on or sprouts from social media channels. This is why there needs to be a greater level of awareness and consideration for those who can benefit most from that information—people with disabilities—since they have the least access to it. Like many websites, social media platforms Read »

Using Visual Content to Drive Engagement

Jun 23, 2014 |

You’ve probably noticed the trend toward more visual content being shared across social platforms—pictures, infographics and how-to videos seem to be popping up everywhere. We certainly noticed that trend across several government social media properties, so when Read »

Civic Hacking: Pathways for Participation

May 2, 2014 |

The National Day of Civic Hacking is actually a weekend. An awe-inspiring two days of collaborative work where coders, designers, writers, innovative thinkers, Read »

How to Tell Your Agency’s Story—Plainly

Apr 16, 2014 |

You’ve got the right words, the active verbs, the carefully chosen adjectives and adverbs. You’ve got the facts. You’ve got the talking points. All you have to do is put it together, right? Wait. What you want to tell people is not necessarily what they need to know. I know it’s hard to organize material Read »

Plain Language Page Titles: More Important than Ever

Mar 28, 2014 |

Government Web pages are found mainly through search engines. Google recently redesigned its search results page and there are quite a few small, but impactful, changes in this latest redesign. Specifically, it affects how page titles are displayed. Many experts now recommend even Read »