Plain Text in the IT field

Plain text is extremely important in the IT field for two different reasons.

First, it’s important because being clear and concise and using language everyone can understand is a huge part of the IT technicians job. People who are usually less technologically literate are coming to me for answers. Giving them the real answer is sometimes too much for them to handle. Giving people the short sweet answer that is easy to understand (even though it may not encompass what the actually problem is) is what matters. People don’t usually want to know the why they just want the answers/solution. Granted I can give them said “why” if they are truly wondering what the problem is. Plain text is good as a starting point for showing those that are technologically illiterates what the why is in a simple way. When you give them an easy to read start they will eventually start to piece together the why the problem is over time. This kind of understanding all starts with simple to read language.

Second, plain text is data that represents only characters of readable material(ASCII). Plain text has a multitude of uses from working in many text editors and utilities to being able to work in a command line interface. Plain text is universal which makes it so great. It takes up very little space and is correctly operable by 99% of systems.  Basically, it is the perfect tool for making and including an instruction Manuel on a software product.

– Garrett Steele


Plain Language in Industrial & Systems Engineering

Plain language is designed for documents such as technical descriptions, instructions, and activity reports. Industrial and systems engineers have a wide variety of tasks that are assigned to them. Some of these might include written, pictorial, or video instructions. In my experience as an engineering intern, I have had the opportunity to work closely with the quality department. When you are producing a wide variety of products for a variety of customers, it is important that the specifications for each tasks are clearly written. When it comes to instructions, there are a lot of things that you must remind an operator to do, as well as not to do. Keeping instructions short and precise will ensure that the operator does not miss an important set of instructions. In addition, it is important to use language consistently, even if some words can be interchangeable. An operator should not have to question whether or not he or she is using the right tool or doing the task correctly.

Plain Language in the Medical Field

Plain language is typically used for instruction, teaching, or presenting information.  In the medical field professionals are required to provide their patients with information regarding their health.  This is where plain language is most useful; it facilitates efficient communication between provider and patient.

Navigating and understanding healthcare today can be confusing and frustrating even for those familiar with the system. Imagine how it might feel for someone who isn’t familiar with the system and who is being expected to interpret important information regarding medical procedures or decisions when they are ill.  Also consider patients with limited literacy skills, overcomplicated medical jargon would surely not be appropriate for them. Times like this are when comprehension is crucial.  Using plain language for patient instruction just makes sense.

It’s also important to note that plain language use for written works is essential, but its use for verbal instructions is also preferred.  In the medical profession I feel we get so used to using terminology among our peers and sometimes forget that our audience may have little or no exposure to medical terms.  The use of plain language is a way to bridge the gap between medical professionals and patients and ensure patients receive and comprehend information regarding their health and well being.

~Diana Schwartz


Levels of Edit

There has been a lot content that was discussed in the course. Levels of edit was the one thing that really does seem to apply more into my daily life. I hope to improve each time with each document produced. The one topic that has stood out the most was levels of edit. This was something I had not used or seen before taking this course. The process was very helpful in filtering down what to look for in each stage of proofreading or editing of the document. The levels were broken down into 4 categories, revising, substantive editing, copyediting, and proofreading. This will help make my writing skills to new heights. The levels of edit give a better insight of the documents structure, subjects, readers, organization, overall design, consistency, spelling errors or mistakes. Each stage focuses on a different aspect of the document, making you look at it differently each time. The edits each time make the document look more composed and professional. I was only looking over the document for spelling errors, or any grammatical errors. I see myself adopting this form of editing in future lab reports, and documents.


– Ian Tobin

Getting to the Point

I’ve taken a lot out of this class, but most of all I’ve learned to make my point quickly. Every sentence that’s written should have a point and make that point clearly and concisely. There is no reason to beat around the bush when presenting information. The phrase “readers are raiders for information” defines this notion. For example, this holds true when writing documentation for code. In this example, a reader simply wants to understand the code using the documentation, nothing more. Therefore, efforts should be made to make the code as clear as possible using the least amount of words.

Every discipline of writing I’ve taken so far has never made this idea apparent to me. This is because making your point at all is emphasized to be more important than anything else presented. However, the more detail that is given the more opportunities for loss of clarity and misinterpretation arise. There are clear benefits to presenting information to the best of one’s ability in the fewest mount of words. A larger group of readers can understand your document, the words you do write carry more meaning, and your readers will be thankful that they can get to the point without reading too much filler. Having substance to your writing is more important than having a lot of useless information. The lesson to take from this is quality over quantity.

Moving forward I plan to write this way in my future career. Adopting this style will make what I write easier for other people to understand and help me think about what details need to be cut out from a message. Taking part in presenting information in a certain way has also made me think differently about others writing. Whenever I read now I try to incorporate the parts that I think help get my point across. To get to the point, I’ve learned to limit my writing to only write what I think is necessary.

-Ted Kaminski