Tuesday, August 09, 2005

3 suggestions for the ticket

Improving the atrocious ticket I quoted yesterday is not terribly hard. But you must remind yourself you are speaking to members the general public, and you must actually want them to understand. Once you have those two things in mind, three principles of plain English drafting (what I call "consumer drafting") apply:
  1. Use you and your for the consumer, ticket holder, patron, etc., and use we, us, and our for the management, owner, ticket issuer, etc. Nothing will do more to streamline and simplify consumer drafting than this. In the atrocious ticket, you could avoid these words: management, holder, and holder of this ticket.

  2. Cut every legalism, jargon word, and fancy word. In the atrocious ticket, this means words like license, termination, authorization, compensation, foregoing, irrevocably, designees, and utilize.

  3. Shorten the sentences. Reduce the content to some core ideas and state those directly and succinctly. For example--"You cannot take pictures or videos of anything in the Museum, and you cannot make audio recordings of anything in the Museum."
It is possible to draft legal text so people understand.

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