Monday, April 10, 2023

Writing in Plain Language

The chief virtue that language can have is clearness, and nothing detracts from it so much as the use of unfamiliar words.


Plain language is the key to communicating with your audience.

Once you master plain language you'll be able to connect to an audience that would have previously been unattainable.  

We're going to look at why writing in plain language is so important, and show you some simple tips and techniques to get you started.

Why Writing in Plain Language Really Important

The shorter and the plainer the better.

Beatrix Potter.

The simpler and plainer the language the more valuable it is for the reader.  Everything we've looked at so far about writing clearly this is at the core.  The plainer you write the more clear you become, allowing your reader to act on the words you've written down.

Even the most sophisticated of mind's prefers a plainly written text than something more elaborate and complicated.  

The Benefit of Plain Language for the Reader

Communication is vital for all organisations, businesses and governments making plain language a highly sought after tool for all writer's to have.

The more accessible information is, the easier it is for people to have their problems answered and get things done.

A Simple Guide to Writing in Plain Language

Know Your Stuff

Before you tackle any subject you need a good foundation of knowledge before you start tackling the subject you're writing about.  Research your topic thoroughly and make a list of all of the things that need checking over.  Probe specialists if you have to, but make sure you know what you're talking about before you start writing.

Recognise Your Reader

Know your audience.  Are they writers, students, or beginners?

What is Your Aim?

Before you start you need to have a goal.  What is your objective?  Are you solving a problem?  Or are you producing a simple guide?  

You need to know what the end prize is for your audience.

The Writing Part

Here are some useful techniques to get you started writing in plain language.

Use Common Everyday Words

The temptation is to show your writing skills, but the audience doesn't see that way.  All they see is the information laid out before them.  Is it clear or too complicated to take the time out to read?

Simplicity is the key to writing plainly.  You do this by using everyday words and language.  This means your reader will understand you no matter there reading level.


Has a requirement for - Needs

Herein - Here

Heretofore - Now

Persistent cough - Cough that won't go away

Accompany - Go with

Currently - Now

Optimum - Best

For a period of - Of

Keep Your Readers Engaged With a Conversational Style

Conversational style writing is one of the best ways to hold your audience's attention.  



Please fill out an application for a loan.


Please apply for a loan.


Please accept my sincere apologies.


Sorry about that!


Please refrain from sharing this information until further notice.


Don't share the info until you hear from us.

Use Shorter Paragraphs

By breaking up a long sentence you create smaller ones that are more digestible and easier to read.  Allowing you to get to your point more quickly.



This program promotes efficient water use in homes and businesses throughout the country by offering a simple way to make purchasing decisions that conserve water without sacrificing quality or product performance.


This program helps homeowners and businesses buy products that use less water without sacrificing quality or performance.

Don't Use Verb Noun Phrases

You don't need a verb and a noun to convey a message, instead you can use just one verb to communicate your point.


Carry out an examination - Examine

Provide guidance for - Guide

Ensure maintenance of -  Maintain

Use the Active Voice

Create simple sentences and ditch the wordy ones by using the active voice.



From the moment your information is received, it will be processed and analysed by our team in no more than 3 weeks.


Once we receive your information, our team will process and analyse it in a maximum of 3 weeks.

Keep It Simple

When we were at school we were taught to write in simple language using short words and sentences.  Gradually those sentences became more complex and so did the language.  

This is why we associate bigger words and more complicated language with being an adult.  Oddly being knowledgeable isn't the same as being intelligent.  Intellect comes by knowing which words to use.

At the end of the day people prefer simple and uncomplicated than complex.

The plainer you write, the easier it is for your audience to understand you, the bigger your following will grow as a writer.

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