I am setting forth ten commandments for writers in the public sector, based on my dissertation and on standards for clear writing. The commandments will each appear as a Word of the Week.
Concretize – link concepts to perceptions.
Concrete things happen in a specific place at a specific time. It’s easier for a city resident to go to a dentist this week than to access oral and dental healthcare in the near future.
The person writing the original text should make its ideas concrete; it’s much harder for an editor to add examples and clarifications afterward. What’s more, research on the law writing process shows that experts find it difficult to accept additions or explanations added by others. All the more reason for the person writing the original text to use concrete language from the outset.
Concrete language by definition is more specific and more accurate. It’s easier for a resident to talk about Tampere City Hall or Palandar House than about “the city’s prestige buildings.” Abstract expressions like that leave room for interpretation, which easily leads to confusion or obscurity. In fact, abstract language often becomes a way to avoid specifics in politically difficult matters.