Sunday, 29 November 2009

Using Plain English

The importance of clear communication is obvious. But plain English is a specific style which can be learnt. The Plain English Campaign have a series of guides to writing plain English.

Some of the key guidelines are:
  • avoid passive voice
  • avoid long sentences with dependent clauses
  • avoid jargon and non-literal phrases
  • avoid excessive formality
  • Try to expand acronyms (e.g. GA) and explain unfamiliar jargon the first time you use them
  • If you are explaining a procedure, try to set it out in small steps in the same order as the person will need to carry out the procedure.
  • Use numbers not words - it's better to use "23" than "twenty-three" as it stands out more

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