Appendix 2: Writing Guidelines for Communications

Here are some guidelines to help you keep your writing appropriate to your readers’ needs


  • Have a clear purpose.
  • Know your audience: what do they need to know? What do they get wrong?
  • Put the most important information first; get right to the point.
  • Use headings and sub-headings to guide readers.
  • Use lists, point form, tables, and question-and-answer formats to make the document easier to read.


  • Use clear, straightforward sentences.
  • Use a sentence to convey only one idea.
  • Prefer a familiar word to an unfamiliar word.
  • Explain technical words or concepts that you cannot avoid.


  • Choose a type style and size that are easy to read.
  • Use upper and lower case, not all capital letters, in text.
  • Use line lengths, margins, and line spacing that are appropriate to the text.


  • Address your readers directly in a straight-forward and up-front manner.
  • Emphasize the positive.

Check with your readers
You can use focus groups, evaluation forms, or surveys, or you can test informally with people you know who might be part of the audience or who know the audience well.