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Don't use the same word to denote different things.

DON'T SAY: The tank had a 200-gallon tank for fuel.

SAY: The tank had a 200-gallon fuel container.

11. Use parallel structure. Arrange sentences so that parallel ideas look parallel. This is important when you use a list.

Nonparallel construction:

The duties of the Executive Secretary of the Administrative Committee are:

To take minutes of all the meetings; (phrase)

The Executive Secretary answers all the correspondence; and (clause)

Writing of monthly reports. (topic)

Parallel construction:

To take minutes of all the meetings;

To answer all the correspondence; and

To write the monthly reports.

12. Prefer simple words. Government writing should be dignified, but doesn't have to be pompous. Writing can be dignified when the language is simple, direct, and strong. To make your writing clearer and easier to read -- and thus more effective -- prefer the simple word.

construct, fabricate make
initiate, commence begin
terminate end
utilize use
substantial portion large part
afforded an opportunity allow

13. Omit needless words. Don't use compound prepositions and other wordy expressions when the same meaning can be conveyed with one or two words.

because of the fact that since (because)
call your attention to the fact that remind you
for the period of for
in many cases often
in many instances sometimes
in the nature of like
the fact that he had not succeeded his failure
the question as to whether whether

14. Avoid redundancies. Don't use word pairs, if the words have the same effect or where the meaning of one included the other.

Examples: Word pairs to avoid

any and all
authorize and direct
cease and desist
each and every
full and complete
order and direct
means and includes
necessary and desirable

15. Use concrete words. Government writing often concerns abstract subjects. But abstract words can be vague and open to different interpretations. Put instructions in simple, concrete words.

vehicles automobiles
firearms rifles
aircraft helicopters

16. Don't use words that antagonize. Words can attract or repel readers. It is possible to choose words in our writing that do not make the wrong impression or antagonize our readers. Use words to which people react favorably rather than words that they resent.

ability achieve benefit guarantee
please reasonable reliable service
  useful you  


alibi allege blame complaint
impossible liable oversight unfortunate
waste wrong    

17. Avoid noun sandwiches. Administrative writing uses too many noun clusters -- groups of nouns "sandwiched" together. Avoid these confusing constructions by using more prepositions.

DON'T SAY: Underground mine worker safety protection procedures development.

SAY: Development of underground procedures for the protection of the safety of mine workers.

OR MORE LIKELY: Development of procedures for the protection of the safety of workers in underground mines.

Which meaning is intended becomes clearer when this four-word sandwich is broken up.

18. Don't use gender-specific terminology. Avoid the gender-specific job title:

Crewman Crew member
Draftsman Drafter
Enlisted men Enlisted personnel
Fireman Firefighter
Foreman Supervisor
Manhours Hours worked
Manpower Personnel, workforce

Avoid the gender-specific pronoun when the antecedent could be male or female.

DON'T SAY: The administrator or his designee must complete the evaluation form.

SAY: The administrator or the administrator's designee must complete the evaluation form.

Be careful when you rewrite to avoid the problem. The following examples don't necessarily have the same meaning --

Each Regional Director will announce his or her recommendations at the conference.

The Regional Directors will announce their recommendation at the conference.

19. Write short sentences. Readable sentences are simple, active, affirmative, and declarative.

The more a sentence deviates from this structure, the harder the sentence is to understand.

Long, run-on sentences are a basic weakness in legal documents.

Legal documents often contain conditions which result in complex sentences with many clauses.

The more complex the sentence, the greater the possibility for difficulty in determining the intended meaning of the sentence.


State one thing and only one thing in each sentence.

Divide long sentences into two or three short sentences.

Remove all unnecessary words. Strive for a simple sentence with a subject and verb. Eliminate unnecessary modifiers.

If only one or two simple conditions must be met before a rule applies, state the conditions first and then state the rule.

If two or more complex conditions must be met before a rule applies, state the rule first and then state the conditions.

If several conditions or subordinate provisions must be met before a rule applies, use a list.

20. Make lists clear and logical in structure. Listing provides white space that separates the various conditions. Listing can help you avoid the problems of ambiguity caused by the words "and" and "or". When you list, use the following rules:

Use parallel structure. (See example in item 11 above.)

List each item so that it makes a complete thought when read with the introductory text.

If the introductory language for the list is a complete sentence --

o End the introduction with a colon; and

o Make each item in the list a separate sentence.

If the introductory language for the list is an incomplete sentence --

o End the introduction with a dash;

o End each item in the list except the last item with a semicolon;

o After the semicolon in the next-to-last item in the list, write "and" or "or" as appropriate; and

o End the last item in the list with a period.

21. Use short paragraphs. A writer may improve the clarity of a regulation by using short, compact paragraphs. Each paragraph should deal with a single, unified topic. Lengthy, complex, or technical discussions should be presented in a series of related paragraphs.

22. Use a checklist and review your draft for each of these principles separately.

Cross References

1. Use cross references sparingly and carefully. Too many cross references can make a provision difficult to read and understand. Include a cross reference only when it is essential to the meaning of the provision, or limits, or makes an exception to the provision.

2. Make a cross reference a reader's aid. If you find it necessary to include a cross reference, cite the specific section designation. After the section designation, include a brief description of the subject matter, so the reader won't be forced to turn to the provision to see what it's about.

See the above section. or Note the chapter on umbrellas. or See 45 CFR 103.1 See 45 CFR 103.1, Use of black umbrellas.


3. A Federal agency may cross reference the regulations of another Federal agency only if the Office of the Federal Register finds that the reference meets any one of the following conditions specified in 1 CFR 21.21:

The reference is required by court order, statute, Executive order or reorganization plan.

The reference is to regulations promulgated by a Federal agency with the exclusive legal authority to regulate in a subject matter area, but the referencing Federal agency needs to apply those regulations in its own programs.

The reference is informational or improves clarity rather than being regulatory.

The reference is to test methods or consensus standards produced by a Federal agency that have replaced or preempted private or voluntary test methods or consensus standards in a subject matter area.

The reference is to the department level from a subagency.

If a Federal agency is thus qualified to cross reference another Federal agency's regulations, it still cannot make modifications to the regulations referenced. If any modifications need to be made, the regulations must be published separately in full text rather than as a cross reference.

Date: 2016-04-22; view: 622

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