house style Introduction

Unique tailoring and customization of your house style

 The Electronic House Style is a premium service that guarantees all employees use a consistent style for product names, dates, titles and other standards set by your organization.

A good house style will stop inconsistency of product names, dates and so on. Does your house style recommend 23 JuneJune 2323rd June or June 23rd? Does your house style prefer Washington D.C. or Washington DC? Do you want to use a house style to discourage people from using industry jargon by recommending replacing system performance indicators with performance targets?

We can code StyleWriter to check thousands of your house-style rules to help every employee write consistently and accurately. Here’s just one example. A finance company had a product called: Low-cost Homebuyers’ Plan. The correct form needed a capital letter in three places, lowercase for the other letters, a hyphen and an apostrophe in the correct position. Staff wrote the phrase many ways and each time StyleWriter found the mistake and suggested the correct form.

Such inconsistencies or mistakes are difficult to spot and laborious to look for in any document. StyleWriter is the only program you can use to set an Electronic House Style with an unlimited number of rules. StyleWriter, with the Electronic House Style built in, guarantees all your documents are clear and consistent across the organization.

benefits of clear writing to organisations

StyleWriter was born out of the need for business, government and academia to write clearly. Our original research showed around 90 percent of organizational writing was poorly written and difficult to understand. Simple and effective editing usually fixed most of the problems, but this did not change the way the original authors wrote. StyleWriter is ideal for use in large organizations because it guarantees the authors of documents will write clearly using the techniques of the best writers.

Everyone knows customer letters, brochures, emails and management reports should be clear and concise.  Clear writing leads to cost savings, improved productivity, better employee and customer relations and more sales and business. The list of benefits is endless. But changing the communications culture in any large organization has proved most difficult, often impossible. Now organizations such as the City of Los Angeles, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Halifax Bank of Scotland and the law firm Denton Wilde Sapte are using our Writing CourseStyleWriter and our House Style service. They choose this solution because it guarantees good writing.

Surveys of business documents redrafted into a readable style show that readers – customers, colleagues and especially the public – always want a clear message rather than business-speak or bureaucratese.

National governments, councils, multinational corporations and major industry bodies have adopted the plain English model for sound, commercial reasons — plain English saves time and money. The savings claimed for plain English are remarkable:

  • The US Navy estimated plain English could save it between $250–$300 million every year.
  • General Electric saved $275,000 by redrafting manuals into plain English.
  • The US Department of Veterans Affairs saved $40,000 redrafting one standard letter into plain English.
  • British Telecom cut customer queries by 25 percent by using plain English.
  • The Royal Mail saved £500,000 in nine months by redesigning one form in plain English.
  • UK businesses lose £6 billion a year because of badly written letters.
  • A UK Government Plain English initiative saved £9 million in printing costs.

Source: Joe Kimble Writing for Dollars.

These savings come from organizations training key staff and employing professional writers and editors. But these people can only edit a few of the millions of documents produced every day in large organizations. Imagine the savings if you used training and editing software to guarantee everyone used plain English in every document.

What if everyone in our organization wrote in plain English?

Unfortunately, the costs of poor communication do not appear in the balance sheet. If they did, organizations would do something to control them. In the following examples, the biggest cost is staff time (author’s time plus the reader’s time), multiplied by the number of employees who receive the document.

  • The United Kingdom’s National Audit Office estimated the cost of producing one page in government departments varied between £3.50 to over £100.
    The low figure was for a one-page letter, typed, printed and sent to 200 people resulting in a bill of £700.
    The higher figure was for each page of a short report that goes through several authors and drafts. This means the cost of such a 50-page report read by 15 senior managers was £5,000.
  • A government department sent a two-page memo to 15,000 employees that took an average of 10 minutes to read and process. The real cost to the department was $100,000 in salaries, overheads and associated costs. The memo was about keeping staff kitchens clean. Was this really a $100,000 problem?
  • A bank had a sales letter rewritten by a professional, plain English editor. The clearer, redraft brought in an extra $11 million of new business. No conventional accounting method would record the previous $11 million missed business opportunity.
  • One council sent 1.3 million pages of committee reports to members in one year. If members worked a sixteen-hour day, seven-day week, reading a page every minute, they would eventually get through all the documents after 3.7 years.

Why are governments and major corporations adopting plain English?

Today, governments, major corporations, trade associations and professional bodies across the world have adopted plain language as the style for writing all documents.
For example, in the USA, presidents Eisenhower, Ford, Carter and Clinton have all issued directives for federal employees to write in plain language. In July 1998, President Clinton stated: “The Federal Government’s writing must be in plain language. By using plain language, we send a clear message about what the Government is doing, what it requires, and what services it offers. Plain language saves the Government and the private sector time, effort, and money.”

Why does plain English software guarantee success?

To guarantee everyone in an organization writes clearly, you need to change the communication culture, train staff and give them the tools to back up the training. This has proved impossible without software.
In the same way running a spelling checker on your word processor guarantees everyone writes without typing and spelling mistakes, plain English software can guarantee the benefits of clear writing.

Organizations can immediately train all staff using our Electronic Writing Course. Each employee can then run StyleWriter through letters, memos and reports until drafting in plain English becomes the standard throughout the organization. Organizations can also work with us to create an Electronic House Style to make sure every document keeps to your house-style rules and conventions.

Email us at info@editorsoftware.com to discuss our corporate service.

writing course demo House Style Demo Using StyleWriter to check your organization’s house style preferences.

Email us at info@editorsoftware.com to discuss our corporate service.

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