March 7, 2013

Simplicity by Franklin D. Roosevelt

The book On Writing Well features a chapter with the heading "Simplicity" and the chapter explains why you should simplify what you are writing. It is well know that Internet services and products should be as simple as possible, but text is often forgotten. One example of why you should simplify text comes from the former US president Franklin D. Roosevelt. The US government wanted in 1942 to issue a blackout order, and this is what the original message looked like:
"Such preparations shall be made as will completely obscure all Federal buildings and non-Federal buildings occupied by the Federal government during an air raid for any period of time from visibility by reason of internal or external illumination."

This is what Roosevelt said when he saw the message: 
"Tell them that in buildings where they have to keep the work going to put something across the windows."   

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