Monday, February 08, 2016

Writing in Plain Language, Part 4: Thoughtful Transitions

Plain language requires transitions to link ideas in guiding readers across the writer's narrative line or logical path. Transitions can be words, phrases, clauses, sentences, or paragraphs. Here are examples of all five, with the transition in italics. 

Word: They submitted the proposal late; however, it is complete, organized, and concise.

Phrase: The information in the proposal is useful. For this reason, we might make an exception to the deadline date.

Clause: Since the proposal addresses our concerns, we accept it with minor modifications.

Sentence: We will pilot the proposal in our Seattle facility. The Seattle management team is uniquely qualified and positioned to plan, launch, monitor, modify, and assess the performance of this initiative. The project launch meeting is scheduled for July 2.

Paragraph: ... The project launch meeting is scheduled for July 2.

The launch meeting will have two objectives. First, the executive office and Seattle management team will establish the project critical path method, including tasks, disciplines, supervision, timeline, milestones, reporting, and budget. Second, the Firm will determine the necessary staff, vendors, production orders, and organizational processes to complete the project within the budget and by the deadline.    

If the project works well, we will roll it out to our Oakland, Tampa, and New York facilities. ...

Without the italicized transitions, these ideas would fall short of clear communication. Writing in plain language goes far beyond choosing the simpler word and shorter sentence; it demands that we connect one idea to another to provide cogent analyses and focused arguments.