What is Plain Language?

Plain Language is not dumbed down. It isn’t about deleting the most complex information. It is about including ALL the information that your clients need but making the document reader-friendly.

Writing is a skill that many people can learn. Some can even learn to write in Plain Language. There is a big push to train doctors and researcher to write in Plain Language. The US Government requires it in their public websites and documents.

Wouldn’t you rather focus on the ideas? That’s your strength.

I can do the “wordsmithing.” I’m really fast and really good at writing and editing. I’ve been doing it for over 20 years. You probably already hire a proof reader to improve what you write. Why not hire me to improve your wording and also catch all grammar, punctuation and spelling issues?

The US Government requires “Plain Writing”

PUBLIC LAW 111–274—OCT. 13, 2010 To enhance citizen access to Government information and services by establishing that Government documents issued to the public must be written clearly, and for other purposes. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled. SHORT TITLE. This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Plain Writing Act of 2010’’. PURPOSE. The purpose of this Act is to improve the effectiveness and accountability of Federal agencies to the public by promoting clear Government communication that the public can understand and use.

Lots of smart people use Plain Language

This is an amazing article about famous people and the grade level the speak and write at . https://quote.com/blog/smartest-speeches-analyzing-the-grade-level-of-leaders-public-comments/

Some Plain Language techniques you can use

  • Simple Sentences. The ideas may be complex but the wording isn’t.  Few commas. Few compound sentences. One idea per sentence.
  • Ideas are in chronological order.  (“If A happens,  then do B,” is a more logical flow than “Do B if A happens.”) 
  • Passive voice is OK, but it is better to use active voice and speak directly to your audience. More verbs.
  • Know your audience and use their vocabulary. Avoid jargon.
  • You can use the same word over and over if it is a good word. (A form is a form. Don’t switch up to calling it an application or document.)
  • Use software that checks reading levels, number of words per sentence, number of sentences per paragraph, etc.
  • Divide up large blocks of text with headers. Most people scan rather than actually read. Make the info easy to find.
  • Lists, Q&A, images and white space are all Plain Language techniques.