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Solving the Challenges of Writing in Plain Language

July 19, 2021
minute read

Konveio’s Document Engagement Platform transforms static PDF documents into digital experiences, rivaling that of a custom HTML website. But the writing used on a PDF or website must follow several best practices, not the least of which is to write in plain language.


After studying the official website for the Plain Language Act of 2010, we wanted to highlight how our latest interactive glossary feature solves a conundrum that all planning professionals invariably face while writing complex documents and trying to follow best practices to make the document understandable.

Below are three quotes from the official website for the Plain Language Act that highlight the disconnect between best practices and the reality that planners face. After we’re on the same page, we’ll share our remedy.


  • “When you have no way to express an idea except to use technical language, make sure to define your terms.”
  • Source (FPLG - Minimize Jargon)



  • “...readers are likely to forget that you’d assigned some common word a new meaning, and when they come upon the word later in your document they assign the common meaning, rather than your specialized one.” -  Morris Cohen (from Reason and Law)
  • Source: FPLG - Minimize Definitions

At Konveio, we know that this is easier said than done. It’s unrealistic to expect that by word choice alone, a technical/legal document can avoid the use of jargon and acronyms entirely. Therefore some definitions will be necessary.

Even with definitions kept to a minimum, most readers of a zoning code will skip ahead to a specific section that may be dozens of pages into a document. To have definitions readily available for clarity wherever the reader starts within the document, there would likely need to be definitions of special terms for every page or section which is downright unrealistic.

While appendices are welcome and encouraged, the default impulse for most readers is to ask Google to define an unfamiliar term, which may not provide the same definition or meaning that the writer intended.

So how can we add clarity and ensure mutual understanding without turning a 600-page document into an 800-page document?


Konveio allows you to upload a customized table of definitions that are relevant to your document and provide the assumed knowledge required for the average stakeholder to interpret each page without adding clutter or length to a document. It can be added to or adjusted at any time and reused across multiple documents.

In summary, we believe that writers ought to follow the advice of the plain language guidelines. And when they cannot, they should be empathetic and use technology to solve the problem.

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