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Aug 13, 2009

Make It Readable

From a recent issuance of Social Security's Program Operations Manual Series (POMS) concerning standards for notices issued by Social Security:

Know your audience. Write to your average reader. Do not write to the experts, lawyers, or advocates unless they are your intended audience.

It is important to use short sentences as often as possible. The longer and more complex a sentence, the harder it is for readers to understand.

When writing notices:

  • Write at the sixth to eighth-grade reading level.

  • Use an average sentence length of no more than 15–20 words.

  • Use no more than seven lines per paragraph.

  • Use short, common words whenever possible.

The article tells Social Security employees to use Microsoft Word software to score notices on readibility.

There is another POMS issuance on the font and font size to use in notices, as well as the type of paper to print the notices on.

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  • 1 Comments:

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    "The article tells Social Security employees to use Microsoft Word software to score notices on readibility."

    Notices are supposed to be an 8.0 level, but SSA Website FAQs and OPI Correspondence Language both read above that level.

    Based on the people that have been elected to run this country, I don't think things can be dumbed down enough for the general public.

    I guess they need to come out with an "SSA Notices For Dummies" book.

    1:02 PM, August 15, 2009  

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