New Zealand Financial Markets Authority
Guidance Note: Effective Disclosures, June 2012


Step 1: Click Next button to show the guideline or "Before" example.
Step 2: Click Next button again to show the explanation or
"After" Plain English revision; Repeat Steps 1 and 2.
Technique: Use the active voice.Explanation: Express the subject’s actions in the active tense (subject, verb, object), rather than the passive.
Original (passive voice)

You will be paid by us.
Rewritten (active voice)

We will pay you.
Technique: Use pronouns, not labels.Explanation: Use ‘you’, ‘we’ and ‘us’ instead of labels such as ‘the applicant’ and ‘the company’.

The company will pay the security holder.

We will pay you.
Technique: Avoid double negatives.Explanation: It is easier to understand sentences phrased positively.

It is not unlikely that …

It is likely that …
Technique: Use definitions effectively.Explanation: If a reader has to refer elsewhere to a definitions section too often, the document may be confusing.

Do not define commonly understood words. Place definitions in an accessible place in the document.
Technique: Do not use jargon unnecessarily.Explanation: Jargon is not clear for a reader who is not experienced in the relevant business or profession. Where jargon is necessary, provide a clear explanation in plain language.

Examples: Any finance terms which are not used in every day language such as ‘leveraged’ or ‘annuity’.
Technique: Use short sentences.Explanation: Each idea in a separate sentence. Remove superfluous words.
Technique: Ensure layout assists the reader.Explanation: Use white space, informative headings and structure effectively so the reader can follow the document easily.

Use clear headings, colour and notes to help the reader.
Technique: Use navigation tools and a well considered structure.Explanation: Tools which help a reader follow the flow of a document: hyperlinks, cross-referencing, heading structure and colour.
Technique: Present important information prominently.Explanation: Techniques to make sure information stands out and attracts the reader’s eye: use clear headings, colour or highlighting, distinct font, bold font and position information so it stands out.

Exercises created by Atty. Gerry T. Galacio; all rights reserved. You can freely use these exercises, but you must not upload them to any website or the cloud. For comments, questions, corrections, or suggestions, email


Exercises created with freeware Hot Potatoes v. 6.3 from the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada.


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