This is where I share my passion for Plain Language writing and clear communication.
What is Plain Language writing?
“Communication is in plain language if its wording, structure and design are so clear that the intended readers can easily find what they need, understand what they find, and use that information.” - International Working Group on Plain Language
What are the Plain Language writing principles?
In addition to following writing norms around content, structure, expression, design and data storage, the Plain Language principles include:
defining the audience (primary, secondary and significant)
being clear on the purpose of the document
organizing the content and designing the page to increase the readers ability to find and understand the information
Writing in plain language is not unprofessional. Nor is it ‘dumbing down’ the message for the audience. When you write clearly you increase the chance the information will be understood and used.
What are the benefits of applying Plain Language writing principles?
You can clarify roles and responsibilities in a policy or process by writing in an active voice and using 1st and 2nd person pronouns
Defining your audiences and their needs will reduce delays and calls seeking clarification
Fewer errors and omissions in applications will improve processing times by your staff
Further, in your workplace, employees will be able to find, understand and apply your workplace policies, procedures and guidelines. Clarity reduces misunderstandings that can result in workplace issues.
By writing for your audience, you will ensure that your documents address the needs of your readers. Your clients and your staff will benefit from using plain language.
So why doesn’t everyone use Plain Language writing principles?
Well, here’s my guess. Plain Language writing is an intuitive and interactive process. It takes extra time to define the reader – we develop personas for your targeted audiences – and write for the audience. We use a process of research, writing, tryouts and revisions. And we evaluate the information for usability.
Time spent at the beginning of the writing process saves processing time and frustration. Government, business, health, legal and academic systems can benefit from using plain language writing. Let me help you get started!