National Year of Reading: half the story

The National Year of Reading (www.dcsf.gov.uk/pns/DisplayPN.cgi?pn_id=2008_0002) was launched on 31 March 2008. Its sponsors have noble aims: to encourage people to read in businesses, homes, and communities in England.

The organization suggests that businesses have an important role to play and the business engagement campaign encourages businesses across the country to become involved in the National Year of Reading.

'Everything starts with reading' is the subtitle on each page of the website. Certainly, it is a catchy subtitle, but it is only half the story. The local Chamber of Commerce suggests that businesses need employees who can read and write sufficiently well to obey written instructions and to operate computerised and technological equipment. That is true, but it is not sufficient. Communication is a two-way activity.

Reading requires work by the reader. However, writers can help to decrease the reader's work by writing clearly. Too many businesses spew out corporate drivel in their general communications, and technobabble in their technical documentation. It is complex, unstructured, and vague. Readers struggle to understand the text.

'Challenges for businesses' suggests many activities that people in business can do to promote reading.

TechScribe wants to add a challenge for businesses: clarify unclear text so that it conforms to best practice guidelines. Employees can find examples of unclear text, which the 'owner' of the text can then re-write.

See also

How to write instructions

How to write user documentation

How to write an e-mail message

Articles about language that show how to write more clearly

Writing for people who do not read easily: workshop review

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