Administrative Policy Writing
Place the Main Idea First
Government regulations are often structured in a way that includes a
general idea or requirement, and then a number of
Sentences that put the exceptions first are difficult to read. Such
sentences ask you to keep in your mind an exception to something
which has not yet been revealed.
Anytime you ask a reader to understand something you have not yet
explained, you have lost clarity.
Except for carpeting, dishwashers, power tools, and yard equipment
everything at the hardware store is on sale.”
About mid-way through the exceptions, you are probably wondering
what this sentence is about.
This is a very common fault in public policy writing. A textbook
example from Texas solid waste regulations: