Plain Language Awards

Celebrate the stories of our clearest business communicators

Finalist: Best Plain English Sentence Transformation 2014

Nathan Wall, Internal Affairs

Website address (note that this text has since been replaced on the agency website)

Original sentence: 63 words

The payment for sick leave would be made where it is a day that the employee would otherwise have worked and would be made at the employee’s relevant daily pay or average daily pay (if it is not practicable or possible to work out what an employee would have earned on the day, or if the employee’s pay varies within the pay period).

Rewritten sentence: 13 words

You should be paid what you’d get if you’d worked a normal day.

Judges’ comment

A bold and significant rewrite! It uses contractions to engage the audience, and clearly states the issue. It may possibly fall down by leaving a question in the reader’s mind due to the word ‘should’. If staff work a full day on Tuesday and a half-day on Wednesday and have Wednesday off sick — they need to hear that they ‘will’ get paid for a half-day, not that they ‘should’. Vagueness can leave readers wondering.

However, dropping 50 words, using an engaging tone, removing much waffle, and avoiding the ghastly word ‘practicable’ is crazily good.

Media statement

Plain English Award nomination for

The Department of Internal Affairs’ team is once again a finalist in the WriteMark New Zealand Plain English Awards.

Following up from its three nominations last year, the team has this year been nominated under the category of Best Plain English Sentence Transformation for

Launched in July this year, the content is designed to make it easier for New Zealanders to find government information online.

‘ makes it easier for people to find government information about services online — using plain language that is easy to understand,’ says Victoria Wray, Product Manager.

‘We are committed to speaking the language of our customers — not the language of government. All of our content is written in plain English and organised around customer needs, not government structure.’

All content was based on existing information from agency websites and deconstructed, re-thought, and rewritten during the 12-month project.

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Mike Smith