"Come Again?!" – Instructional and Technical Material in Plain English
True examples* of pompous bloatification (a word we made up):
Purification of unliquidated obligations is essential for the early identification and correction of invalid obligation amounts to ensure full and effective fund utilization.
~a mid level professional at a federal agency
The previous staffing requirements were adjusted to recognize that the idealized fractionalization and time phasing of communication support skilled personnel desired by proposal managers will often not be possible.
~a mid level professional at a Fortune 500 company
A proactive position vis-à-vis the escalation of the matter of ongoing sudden outage interference with the making of long-distance indials by customers has been taken.
~a customer service representative at a telecommunications company
All we can say is “HUH?!” Why can’t people write in plain English?
If you’re trying to explain something—whether simple or complex—the last thing you want to do is befuddle the reader with inflated, pretentious writing. It’s counterproductive. This applies to:
- User manuals
- Instructional material
- Technical writing
- Legal documents
- Even letters to your grandmother
So, before you insert another “heretofore” or an “aforementioned,” STOP! Think clean, simple, plain English.
Consider using video to put product-assembly instructions online.
After receiving her doctorate in business administration, Joan was faced with the dilemma of joining a Fortune 100 company as its chief operating officer or teaching at an Ivy League university.