An interinstitutional approach to clear writing

Over 900 people attended the ‘Clear writing for Europe’ conference organised by the European Commission on 13 and 14 October. A varied and interesting programme included contributors from EU institutions and many other spheres. The event provided the opportunity to showcase the efforts currently being made to promote clear and effective communication and multilingualism.

The importance of clear writing in a multilingual context was endorsed with opening and closing remarks by important EU figures, namely Johannes Hahn – European Commissioner for Budget and Administration, Nicola Beer – Vice President of Multilingualism at the European Parliament, Emily O’Reilly – European Ombudsman, and Dubravka Šuica – Vice President of the European Commission.

For the first time, the conference’s organisation committee was made up of members from several EU institutions and agencies: headed by the European Commission’s DGT, representatives from the European Parliament, the European Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and Committee of the Regions and the Translation Centre were also on the committee.

As an organisation committee member, one of the CdT’s linguists was invited to moderate a panel on ‘Understanding your rights’. Covering efforts made to bring plain language to the criminal justice field, and how design can make legal writing more user-friendly, a DG Grow official also presented the portal which enables citizens and businesses to find out about their obligations and rights in all EU countries, and for which CdT provides its translation services.

The conference’s closing panel gathered the senior management of the event’s organising institutions. In this capacity, the Centre’s acting director, Benoît Vitale, reiterated CdT’s commitment to facilitating multilingualism, including by encouraging authors to write clearly, use our editing services and consult our Writing for translation/Ecrire pour être traduit guide. He also mentioned the challenges that new translation technologies may bring to clear writing, and announced the upcoming arrival of CdT’s new guide on writing for automated translation.

 

SOME CLEAR WRITING TIPS

  • Use abbreviations as little as possible, and certainly don’t use them without explaining what they stand for.
  • When drafting, always keep in mind your readers and their likely level of understanding.
  • Once you’ve finished drafting a text, leave it for a while; go back and read it later before you submit it.
  • If possible, ask another person to read through your text once you’ve written it.
  • Length of the text – less is usually more!

 

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