Plain language practices of professional writers in Quebec
This article investigates the plain language practices of professional writers in Quebec, using a survey. We contacted 55 professional writers and asked them to complete an online survey about how they apply plain language in their work, and the type of writing assistance they would find useful. We also asked 40 of those writers to carry out a simplification task to see what kind of simplifications they were actually making.
If the feelings about the reality of the writers’ work is in line with the literature, opinions on plain language guidelines are not. Most writers in our survey find them useful and precise enough, and this contrasts with reported criticisms of such guides. In the simplification task, we noticed that writers focus on the overall understanding of the text, and not only on some linguistic characteristics (as shown in plain language guidelines). The more experienced the writer, the more changes they will make to visual/structural aspects or relational efficiency. Putting the focus on the reader’s needs is their main concern.
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