RE: Grade-Level Writing

Subject: RE: Grade-Level Writing
From: "Hauglie, Joe" <jhauglie -at- ti -dot- com>
To: "'TECHWR-L -at- LISTS -dot- RAYCOMM -dot- COM'" <TECHWR-L -at- LISTS -dot- RAYCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2004 09:22:23 -0600

Linda Hughes asks for input about revising a manual for lower-reading level

Linda, I think the suggestions from others are in the right direction
(rewriting/revising the content to contain shorter sentences, simpler
structures, etc.). There are a couple of other things to think about, as
well, that may help you do this.

1) A picture is worth 1K words. When writing a manual of any type for this
audience, keep in mind that their reading level may be best understood by
the clarity, simplicity and accuracy of the graphics or drawings that
describe what they are to do with the subject.

2. It sounds odd, but try the "auto-summarize" feature in Word. Set it to
summarize 75% of the manual's contents, and then see what's recommended
(highlighted) for summarization. You may be surprised to see what the most
important contents are.\

3. Spend an hour or so with someone from an adult literacy advocacy group
(look for a Literacy Volunteers group or adult ed/community college educ
network in your area) and get a half-dozen samples of acceptable writing for
your target level. Then put together an outline that will work with your
content but that (sub)divides the present manual into much smaller chunks -
five to seven paragraphs per page, 12-pt minimum font size for body text, at
least one graphic every two pages, and as many listed/numbered procedures as
possible, all contained in a manual that has a simple TOC and very direct

There aren't any tools I know of to do this, but you may be able to find a
grad student in Ed Psych or Curriculum at a nearby university who would do
the work for a flat fee.


Joe Hauglie
Technical Editor
Technical Information Systems
Texas Instruments - Tucson

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