Course Outcomes

This writing course for government writers will:

  • Explain when to write and when to choose another method of communication.
  • Outline a writer’s obligations under the Plain Writing Act.
  • Offer quick tips for immediately improving a document’s readability.
  • Share methods for identifying main messages and their supporting points.
  • Review the basic rules of grammar and punctuation.
  • Suggest editing tips.

Course Overview

Unfortunately, government writers have a reputation for producing convoluted, clunky, and downright confusing text. This Business Training Works’ course is designed with the government writer in mind.  The program will help participants develop basic skills to use English correctly and convey messages in the most direct way possible.

Program Objectives

At this program’s conclusion, participants should be able to:

  • Decide when they should write.
  • Explain their obligations under the Plain Writing Act.
  • Write for the average citizen.
  • Organize information logically.
  • Use words, grammar, and punctuation correctly.
  • Eliminate wordiness.
  • Edit their work.

The following outline highlights some of the course’s key learning points. As part of your training program, we will modify content as needed to meet your business objectives. Upon request, we will provide you with a copy of the participant materials prior to the session(s).

Workshop Outline 

The Basics: Getting Started

In this opening discussion, participants will explain their duties as government writers and how those responsibilities differ from those of their counterparts in the private sector.  Next, group members will put themselves in their readers’ chairs for the purpose of describing the factors that influence whether a piece of writing can be considered good. Following that conversation, we will review questions writers should ask themselves before choosing written communication over faster and easier methods of conveying information.  Finally, participants will review the course topic list and shape the day’s agenda.

Quick Wins: Making an Immediate Difference

The Plain Writing Act of 2010 requires federal government writers to use clear communication the public can understand.  During this segment of the program, we will highlight a series of tips writers can put immediately in practice to improve the readability of their documents.  Without any additional instruction on the mechanics of English, participants will apply these quick-win fixes to a variety of texts.  By this segment’s conclusion, group members should understand how, when used back on the job, these small changes can improve their writing.

Subject and Organization: Understanding the Importance of Planning

Although many writers know what they want to say, not all have the ability to organize their thoughts on paper in such a way that their readers understand the intent of the message.  This part of the workshop introduces tools for identifying a paper’s purpose and its supporting points.

Style: Choosing Clear over Clunky

Writing in the active voice, using common vocabulary, and avoiding multiple words when one will suffice, are some of the choices government writers can make to improve their writing.  During this part of the program, participants will apply these guidelines to several existing texts.  Once comfortable with the concepts discussed, the instructor will task the group members with creating an original writing assignment where they must follow the same rules.

Comma, Comma, Chameleon: Using Punctuation and Grammar Correctly

Although they perform writing tasks every day, many government writers remain unclear about elements of punctuation and grammar.  This part of the program reviews common grammatical and punctuation mistakes.  This segment also addresses how choices related to words and the symbols used to separate them can drastically alter a document’s meaning.

Write Now: Showing What You Know

With the goal of practicing the course’s concepts, in this portion of the program, participants will complete another writing assignment.  The subject will depend on the group’s makeup and skill level.

On the Chopping Block: Getting Ruthless

Good self-editing is about cutting words, revising sentences, moving paragraphs, and occasionally accepting the fact that a piece needs an entire rewrite.  It’s not always fun, and it doesn’t usually feel good.  However, as people responsible to the public, government writers owe it to the citizens they serve to edit ruthlessly to produce the best possible piece they are capable of drafting.  In this final part of the program, the instructor will offer several suggestions for revising documents.  First, the course participants will review their work with these tips in mind.  Next, the class will practice peer editing to further refine the texts.

At the program’s conclusion, participants will have an understanding of when they should and shouldn’t write, their obligations under the Plain Writing Act, and steps they can take to generate writing that is clear, concise, and correct.