Passive Voice vs Readability: Example One – A Status Report Activity Copy

A narrative of passive-voice sentences is not readable. We can’t understand it.

Case in point. Read this paragraph for comprehension and notice the nine underlined passive-voice verbs. 

This is to inform you that a Date Coding system for the identification of all sterilization lots has been implemented. The placement of the code has not been determined. However, it has been ascertained that the most advantageous placement position would be on the top of the container itself, using the standard day-month-year double-digit code (00-00-00). Additionally, it has been determined that a 3 by 5-inch label will be designed with a red border to enable high visibility for the reader. As soon as the decision is reached as to the placement position, the problem will be solved. Before the design can be finalized, the placement position of the label must be approved.

Now let’s look at a rewrite of this paragraph with a list of active-voice verbs. 

We have submitted our recommendations to executive management.

The members of the Date Coding team decided yesterday that we should:

  • Put the date labels on top of the containers.
  • Use the standard day-month-year double-digit code (00-00-00).
  • Use a 3 by 5-inch label.
  • Put a red border around the label to increase visibility.

When we obtain their approval, we will design our labels.