Years ago I came across some research into the benefits of plain language published by Professor Joseph Kimble of the WMU–Cooley Law School (USA). I was excited! Even back then we were telling anyone who would listen that plain language offered tangible benefits to organisations and, ultimately, to citizens and consumers.
But, although we had plenty of anecdotes to share, we had no hard facts to put in front of people. Now I had some compelling evidence — documented studies that showed the positive impact on efficiency and reputation, as well as big savings in money. I wrote to Professor Kimble and asked how we could buy his booklet called Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please. The rest is history. Professor Kimble (who quickly became ‘Joe’) was generous enough to ship us cartons of his booklet for free. And we, in turn, distributed them to interested organisations up and down New Zealand over many years.
In 2012, Joe published the greatly expanded hardcover version of his research as Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please: The case for plain language in business, government, and law. Joe’s book, brimming with facts that show plain language works, is something of a bible at Write. The phrase ‘You know the bit in Joe’s book where…’ is a popular sentence-starter.
Thank you, Joe, for paving the way for so much of our work in New Zealand! From the day I first read Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please, your research has inspired me and the Write team to find ways to create a long-lasting change in an organisation’s writing culture. We firmly believe that when you change the way people think about writing, and link clear writing to the bottom line, you change the results. So Rewrite is also full of stories and case studies — more ‘cartons of evidence’ — showing that an investment in plain language more than pays for itself.
You can find Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please: The case for plain language in business, government, and law with free shipping at Book Depository, and other popular bookstores.