Keep it short and simple Important information first

This is a good rule for all writing, but it is even more important for an audience that is new to New Zealand. If the critical information is not the first thing they read, they may stop reading before they get to it.

Get to the point

If it is not crucial to your meaning, do not include it. Write about the facts that your audience need to know; extra information may confuse the reader.

Confusing:

Actually, the OECD has some very nice things to say about our educational system, calling us ‘a top-performing country in terms of the quality of its educational system’.


Clear:

The OECD refers to New Zealand as ‘a top-performing country in terms of the quality of its educational system’.

 

Use short sentences

Avoid long sentences. Check any sentence with more than 20 words to see if you can split it to make it easier to read. Sentences should be short and to the point. Try to express only one idea in each sentence. Try to avoid words that add little meaning to your sentence.

 

Use short words

When you use a longer word, some readers may skip to the shorter words that follow it. If this happens, your reader might miss important information.

Confusing:

Tax is one of those inescapable facts of life, even in New Zealand, but at least the experts here have developed a tax system that’s comparatively easy to navigate.


Clear:

Tax is a fact of life, even in New Zealand. But the experts here have developed a tax system that is easy to understand.

 

Reduce redundancies

Redundancies repeat what you are already saying. They can add another level of complexity for those new to New Zealand who may have to unnecessarily translate both words. Avoid them to simplify your writing.

Confusing:

A little forward planning and preparation will save a lot of time, frustration and stress in your job hunt.


Clear:

Planning will save you a lot of time in your job search.

 

Stay consistent

Try to use the same term consistently for a specific thought, concept or object. Using different terms can confuse your reader and may lead them to misinterpret your information.

Confusing:

There are several tools you could use, and choosing the right implement is important, so check first to make sure you have the correct equipment.


Clear:

There is more than one tool you could use, and using the best one is important. Check first to make sure you have the right tool.

 

Junk the jargon

Try to not complicate matters by using jargon that your new to New Zealand audience will not understand. If you really need to use a technical term you can, but remember to explain what you mean the first time you use it.

 

Too much negativity

Occasionally in English we include two negatives to make a statement more subtle. For those who do not have English as a first language, a double negative can make a sentence even more difficult to understand.

Confusing:

The situation is not uncomplicated.


Clear:

The situation is complicated.

 

Avoid contractions

Contractions (such as it’s, you’re, it’ll, they’re) may confuse those whose first language is not English. They can hide what is being contracted. It is best to write in full.

  • Contractions that end in ‘s can be mistaken for possessives.
  • An ‘s can be read as either has or is. 


 

Mind your meanings 


A lot of English words have multiple meanings. Think hard about whether a word you are using has another commonly used definition. If it does, consider an alternative, or make it clear which definition you mean. 


Confusing:

That is the natural choice.


Clear:

  • That is the obvious choice, or
  • 
That is the environmentally friendly choice.