Five Simple Tips for Improving Readability in Financial Documents

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Sep 2, 2016

Whereby this is a post in a blog on the website of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants, notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained herein, we henceforth disclose that the New York Times has an editorial pleading for plain English in financial documents. The aforementioned New York Times editorial (referred to henceforth as "the editorial") utilizes the following guidance for remediation of complexities in financial documentation (henceforth referred to as "documentation"): 

* Avoid words like herein, hereto, hereunder and hereby, as well as the occasional aforementioned or witnesseth."

* Avoid unnecessary abbreviations and acronyms. 

* Try not to use long, parenthetical phrases. Try breaking up the sentence into two or more instead. 

* Avoid all caps as a way to get people to pay attention. 

* Imagine reading this to a family member. Would they understand what you're getting at? 

The editorial acknowledges that complexity in documentation is sometimes unavoidable, given that business itself is complex, the authors argue it doesn't need to be nearly as impenetrable and dense as most writing is today. 

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