The majority of commonwealth agency documents are difficult for the public to read due to an overuse of lengthy sentences in writing and passive voice, according to new research.
The study conducted by Canberra consultancy Ethos CRS found that the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Defence Housing Australia, and the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications were the top three agencies for clear writing.
Ethos CRS surveyed 136 public documents from 35 agencies. It used clear writing benchmarks recommended by the Australian Government Style Manual — which Ethos helped design — and the language analysis platform VisibleThread.
These guidelines recommend:
- A grade level (or year level) of seven or lower,
- No more than 5% long sentences,
- At least 96% active voice sentences.
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