Every writer needs to make sure that readers understand their content easily, quickly, and clearly. Health-related information can be particularly challenging. In this article, I share 3 steps to help you convey your message in a way that is as clear and inclusive as possible – both in its original and translated versions.
Despite the emerging awareness surrounding inclusiveness and plain language, there's still much more to be done.
Writers and translators have a role to play in making information accessible to everyone.
Writing in plain language means using everyday words and expressions instead of complex, formal or convoluted phrases. Using inclusive language means that you're bringing everyone in, rather than perpetuating the exclusion of groups that have been (and still are) marginalized and discriminated against.
1. Ask yourself what words or concepts your readers are likely to know already, what tone and amount of detail are suitable and what message they are supposed to get from your information.
Who is your target audience?
What do you want to achieve with your content?
2. While drafting your text, use plain and inclusive language.
It’s not about dumbing down. It’s about being as comprehensive as possible.
Use everyday words and expressions. If you need to use complex terms, explain them by adding their definition.
Use lists to break down complex content. For example, when you have to mention things like:
tips and actions.
Use clear, specific subheadings to provide a guide to the topics of your content. For example, questions such as “When should I take my medication?” make great subheadings.
Use consistent terminology by identifying your key terms and using them consistently.
Although SEO techniques recommend using synonyms, your main goal here is not to confuse your readers.
Use the active voice and write like you are having a conversation with your readers.
Avoid biases, slang, and expressions that discriminate against groups of people. For example, pay close attention to
Avoid using idiomatic expressions as they can be hard to understand by readers across different regions that share the same language and by non-natives. Plus, they can be hard to translate into another language and culture.
3. When you have the text ready for translation, share as much information as possible with your translator.
Once you have your piece ready for translation, make sure your translator is familiar with plain language and inclusiveness principles. Plus, provide a clear brief about who is your target audience and what you want your readers to take away from your content.
By following these steps, you will ensure that when your intended audience reads your text, they fully understand the information they seek.
Ana Sofia is an English to Portuguese medical translator and writer working with Life Sciences companies, Contract Research Organizations, and Medical Communication agencies. She has experience translating and writing content for clinical trials, medical devices, regulatory submissions, education and marketing campaigns, and scientific publications.