Better Information Tips
Tip #2: Online legal information should be audience-focused
Write for your audience
Before developing legal information, make sure you have a particular audience in mind. Are you producing information for a particular gender/age/cultural background? You need to tailor information, and how you present that information, to meet the needs of your audience. Consult with members of your intended audience and form a reference group. Who best to help you develop a resource than your intended audience? Writing for your audience also means thinking about language and structure.
Unless you are translating legal information into a language other than English, legal information should be written in plain language. Research shows that almost half of the Australian population struggles with literacy, so avoid complex legal terms if you can. If you have to use them, explain what they mean. Our Legal glossary is a great resource for this purpose.
You should make sure that information is structured in a logical order, from general to specific. You need to ‘lead’ the audience from introductory material to more in-depth material. Also, put like information together so that your reader does not have to jump from one section to another. Making your resource easy to read increases the likelihood that it will be understood the first time.
This tip is drawn from the VLAF Online Legal Information Guidelines. See the Better Information section of our website for the full list of guidelines, and resources available to help you implement them.