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The Plain English Approach to Business Writing.

Good writing is worth the effort--effort from you and from your people. Think about the communication that gets lost. The simple techniques in this book--on style, organization, and layout--can make all the difference to writers, readers, and supervisors. So push for plain English at work. It's the new way to write."

The paragraph you have just read is from the summary of Edward Bailey's book, The Plain English Approach to Business Writing. Why is it the lead paragraph? Because Bailey believes the main idea should be first, before the explanations of fact and logic. Give the reader the bottom line up front and background information later.

That is the point of the book, to teach people to write in plain English, or in other words, to write the same as they talk. Bailey's experience with business and government shows that people write not as they normally speak, but in the various "eses"--academese, bureaucratese, legalese. Writers often want to impress their readers through word selection and usage, rather than effectively communicate with everyday words that we all use.

Many organizations and agencies are discovering that it is beneficial to encourage people to write as they talk. A straightforward style that is easy to understand has obvious advantages to you as the boss.

How many times have you given an assignment that requires a written response, only to find yourself substantially rewriting or even writing it yourself? That's a serious form of reverse delegation that managers do not desire or have time for.

As Bailey says, a manager's job is to manage, not to prepare the written aspects of subordinates' work. A manager's dream is to be presented well-reasoned work in final form. In fact, today's time and resource limitations demand this be the case.

Bailey explains the important points necessary for good writing. These include the following:

* style and clarity--writing sentences that are clear and easy to read

* organization--letting the readers know where they are and where they are going

* layout--providing visual reinforcement

* punctuation--showing how to acquire emphasis

* concreteness--using details and examples to make a point

* active voice--writing the way we talk

* supervising--getting the best writing from your staff

Additional hints are given on the writing process, preparation of executive summaries, and the use of headings and bullets.

Bailey provides many good examples and explanations of how to apply the plain English approach to business writing. A plus for busy managers is that the book concisely and adequately covers the subject. The type size and layout allow for easy reading. An appendix containing a list of simpler words and phrases and an index are included.

I recommend this book to colleagues and security professionals at all levels. Many will find it of immediate value. After becoming familiar with the concept of plain English writing, you'll find yourself automatically identifying and removing the bureaucratic style.

Reviewer: Paul D. Barnard, CPP, is command security manager for the US Army, Tank-Automotive Command, Warren, MI, and a member of ASIS.
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Society for Industrial Security
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Barnard, Paul D.
Publication:Security Management
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 1992
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