This blog shares some of our thoughts about plain language, and the latest discussions about plain English and clear design in New Zealand, and around the world.

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17 July 2013

Poor writing is not sustainable

Too many New Zealand businesses don't realise the huge impact unsustainable business practices are having on their bottom line. That was the clear point that Sustainable Edge consultant Annette Lusk made in a recent column on the Stuff website. ('NZ businesses behind in sustainability').

Too many businesses see sustainability as something that's 'nice to do for the greater good', she says, rather than something that has a huge impact on profits.
So true. And sustainability is about much more than just recycling your rubbish and using eco-lightbulbs. It's also about not wasting people's time and energy.

Not many people see their writing as part of their sustainability efforts, but in fact the words you write in any business come at a cost. When your people take too long to write something, or what they write doesn't do the job well, your production costs soar. You can measure that loss of productivity in wages and salaries, and in the resources you're wasting (ink, paper, hardware, and so on).

But poor writing is also costing you in other ways. Staff may take longer to understand and act on emails or instructions; and reports may have to go through many versions. Your clients may lose trust and loyalty if the way you write doesn't tally with your business brand and image.

Every business has a voice, and if your writing is letting you down, you have a problem. Poor writing is wasteful, and unsustainable for your business.

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