Good writing sparkles

13 August 2009


Good writing sparkles like a well-cut diamond.


The logo of the UK’s Plain English Campaign looks like a diamond.  The Campaign awards a ‘Crystal Mark’ seal of approval to organisations that demonstrate a commitment to communicate clearly with the public.


Like a diamond, the Crystal Mark has many ‘facets’ that represent the standards of plain English, including the use of

§  everyday language

§  conciseness

§  personal tone

§  easy to read layout

§  helpful headings

§  active voice.


The 4 Cs of diamonds

Diamonds are characterised by 4 Cs: cut, carat, clarity and colour.

§  Cut refers to the shape of the stone and to the proportions of the facets (surfaces cut into the stone).  The better the proportion between the facets, the more light is reflected – and the more it sparkles.

§  Carat indicates the weight of the diamond.  The heavier the stone, the more valuable and expensive it is.

§  Clarity refers to how clear the stone is – ranging from ‘included’ (with visible imperfections) to ‘flawless’.

§  The natural colour of a diamond ranges from white to yellow.  Diamonds can also be irradiated to make them green, red, pink, blue or brown.


Does your writing sparkle?

Is it well ‘cut’ – allowing the light to shine on the information?  Is it ‘heavy’ with relevant, valuable information?  Is it flawlessly clear?  And does it convey your own personal touch – adding ‘colour’ to the tone?


I discuss how to meet these standards in the TRIM stage of the ‘Writing with TASTE’ process – how to be complete, cohesive, clear, concise and courteous.


Resources on Plain English

For more information, see

§  the UK Plain English Campaign []

§  the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s free downloadable Plain English Handbook [].


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