WRITING USER-FRIENDLY DOCUMENTS
Place Words Carefully
Avoid ambiguous phrasing that can mislead your reader.
How you place words in relation to each other can greatly affect your document. Using
short sentences will often make this problem disappear.
In the example below, it is difficult for the reader of the old style provision to figure out
which words relate to the forest products, which relate to the tribe, and which relate to
|Upon the request of an Indian tribe, the
Secretary may provide that the purchaser of the forest products of such tribe, which are
harvested under a timber sale contract, permit, or other harvest sale document, make
advance deposits, or direct payments of the gross proceeds of such forest products, less
any amounts segregated as forest management deductions pursuant to section 163.25, into accounts designated by such
|| If you ask us, we will require purchasers of
your forest products to deposit their payment into an account that you designate.
(a) You can instruct us to deposit advance payments as well as direct
payments into the account.
(b) We will withhold from the deposit any forest management deductions under section 163.25.
You will eliminate many potential sources of ambiguity by writing shorter sentences.
The less complex the sentence, the clearer the meaning and the smaller the chance of
ambiguity creeping in. Still, you must watch how you place words even in short
sentences. In the example below, the reader may have to read the original statement several times to figure out that we don't mean
"If you really want to have a disability . . ."
|If you are determined to have a disability, we will pay you the following:||If we determine that you have a disability, we
will pay you the following:|
As you write, place your words with care to avoid possible misinterpretations or
muddied meanings. A carefully written document is clear, concise, and unambiguous.
Draft your document with care to eliminate unclear phrasing.