Plain English can bring your financial topic to life

Must an article about how to prevent another Flash Crash be difficult to understand?

Not if you use plain English, as Floyd Norris did in “Time for Regulators to Impose Order in the Markets,” his May 14 column in The New York Times.

Here’s Norris’ first sentence: 
“If your machine makes a mistake that the dumbest human would never make, then maybe you don’t have a very good machine.” 

Even a child can understand Norris’ lead sentence. Norris created an image in my mind that made it easier for me to follow the rest of his column about the changes he believes are needed for the New York Stock Exchange.

The next time you write an investment or financial article, try to use plain language to introduce your topic. Your readers will thank you.

Related posts
* Financial writers clinic: Lessons from Floyd Norris of The New York Times
* Vary your paragraph length like New York Times columnist Floyd Norris
* Financial writers clinic: Rhythm can help you

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Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

7 replies
  1. Rob Benjamin
    Rob Benjamin says:

    In the Sarbanes-Oxley assessments I performed a few years ago, I spent almost 50% of my time – and the clients' money – cleaning up the UN-Plain Language documentation of their financial controls. Plain Language cuts time, money, and a host of other business costs, period.

  2. Susan Weiner, CFA
    Susan Weiner, CFA says:


    I like your testimonial that "Plain Language cuts time, money, and a host of other business costs, period." If more people realized this, they'd spend the extra time up front to use Plain Language.

    Thanks for your comment!

  3. Debra Mackey
    Debra Mackey says:

    Keep fighting the good fight, Susan. Plain language in investment writing means smartening up, not dumbing down. I wish more investment firms understood that the main objective of their marcomm is to attract investors, not impress their peers.

  4. Susan Weiner, CFA
    Susan Weiner, CFA says:

    Tax Mutual Funds,
    Thank you for your support! It's great to know folks are reading my blog posts.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Personally, I enjoy Off the Charts by Floyd Norris in The New York Times. If you’re a longtime reader of this blog, this may not surprise you. I’ve written several blog posts in praise of his writing skill, including “Plain English can bring your financial topic to life.” […]

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