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Writing Clearly for Clients and Colleagues

The Human Service Practitioner´s Guide

Natalie Ames and Katy Fitzgerald

Publication Date - 01 July 2015

ISBN: 9780190615604

165 pages
6 x 8.9 inches

In Stock


If you have ever waded through a rambling case summary, a jargon-heavy program description, or a poorly organized training manual, you are aware of how important it is for human service agencies' written materials to be clear and concise. Whether in print or electronic format, most agencies must provide information to a variety of audiences. Ames and FitzGerald have developed a guide to help human service professionals clearly communicate valuable information to board members, funding sources, volunteers, and-perhaps most importantly-clients with limited literacy skills.

The book highlights how readers can apply readability guidelines to improve all of the print and electronic materials agencies use to communicate with internal and external audiences. Whether creating a brochure, sending an email, writing a grant, or documenting case records, human service professionals can make their messages clear and understandable by following the guide's simple rules and practical suggestions.


  • information about reading and comprehension
  • instructions for setting reading levels, using layout, and creating content that make print materials readable
  • before-and-after writing examples
  • exercises for practicing literacy skills and techniques

About the Author(s)

Natalie Ames (MSW and EdD, West Virginia University) is associate professor of social work at North Carolina State University. Her social work experience includes public welfare, medical social work, and individual and group counseling. While working for different agencies, she developed accessible educational materials and training programs for professionals and the general public.

Katy FitzGerald (MSW, North Carolina State University) is a clinical social worker at R. J. Blackley Alcohol and Drug Abuse Treatment Center. Prior to her social work career, FitzGerald held positions in technology marketing where she developed her ability to translate difficult, technical information into easy-to-read written material for clients.


"Identifying the connection between poverty, educational attainment and reading ability, the authors appropriately identify that service users may benefit most from readable materials. It is not only the poor who may have difficulty reading an agency's materials however, and a much wider audience can benefit from the identification of what a specific audience needs to know and providing that information clearly, simply and concisely. Obtaining the skills to complete this task is what the book aims to provide." --Journal of Social Work

"There is a real depth of information and guidance provided within a short space..." --Journal of Social Work

Table of Contents

    Chapter 1: Why Readability Matters
    Chapter 2: How to Make Your Writing Clear
    Chapter 3: Planning Ahead for Readability
    Chapter 4: How to Achieve and Measure Readability
    Chapter 5: Collecting and Using Feedback
    Chapter 6: Writing for Every Agency Audience
    Chapter 7: Readability and Electronic Communication
    Chapter 8: Readability and Documentation
    Appendix: A Brief Review of Grammar and Punctuation

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