Saturday, 16 March 2019

5 Simple rules for writing in plain English

What is plain English?

Plain English is a way of writing that is clear, easy to read and unambiguous. 

Some might say it caters to the lowest common denominator, but that isn't strictly true.

Simple language doesn't have to be basic. 

You can find out more about the differences between simple and basic language here.

What are the advantages of using plain English?

Plain English makes your writing accessible to a wider audience. This can open up new markets for your products and services that you may not have considered before.

It's also quicker to read and you're more likely to get your message across on the first read.

What are the rules for writing in plain English?

There are a number of ways to use plain English in your written communications.

Here are five of the simplest rules to follow.

1. Keep your sentences short.
Experts recommend a maximum of 20 words per sentence. You should vary the length of each sentence to keep your reader interested.

2. Use active voice rather than passive voice.
Active voice sounds animated and involved. Passive voice sounds detached and stuffy.
For example:
Active voice: You will choose the colour and style.
Passive voice: The colour and style will be chosen by you.

Another example:
Active voice: You can find all the information on our website.
Passive voice: The information can be found on our website.

3. Talk about 'you' and 'we'.
I've talked about the power of you before. 

Using 'you' and 'we' sounds more friendly and makes it easy for the reader to know who you're talking to/about.

4. Use the right words for your reader.
Plain English is about using words your reader is familiar with and will understand. This usually means avoiding unnecessary jargon and unexplained acronyms.

5. Give direct instructions.
If you want your reader to do something, be clear and say it directly.

For example:
Direct: Shop now
Indirect:Visit our online shop

Do you need some help?

I am a plain English copywriter and get my kicks from converting complex propositions and ideas into clear, simple language that informs, explains and sells.

If you would like to widen your market, or improve the simplicity of your communications and would like some help, why not get in touch?

You can find out more about me and what I can do for you by visiting my website.

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