WHY PLAIN ENGLISH?
Plain English starts with a goal: help readers to find, understand and use the information they need as quickly and easily as possible. It's achieved by thinking deeply about your readers' needs and using plain English techniques to organise, express and present ideas in a clear and straightforward way.
It's a thoughtful, flexible approach with demonstrated benefits. When you communicate in plain English, you reach a larger audience, get your message across and leave a better impression.
REACH MORE PEOPLE
Plain English makes information more accessible. Nearly one in seven Australian adults struggles with all but the most basic texts; close to half can't make sense of long, dense documents. While plain English doesn't erase the impact of low literacy, it does give more people a better chance of reading and understanding your message. That's especially important when the people who most need your information are also more likely to have trouble with reading. People in poor health, for example, tend to be less literate, so it makes sense to simplify health information for consumers.
Plain English also reaches more people because it's more engaging: if a document looks difficult at first glance, people are less likely to even try to read it. If they do pick it up but still struggle to make out the meaning, they probably won't persist to the end.
GET YOUR MESSAGE ACROSS
Plain English is the best way to get your message across. Since the 1970s, researchers have been studying how a plain English approach affects comprehension, testing documents of all types – from juror instructions to clinical guidelines – with both ordinary and expert readers. They've generally found that plain English documents are faster to read and easier to understand.
And the plain English approach has benefits no matter how difficult the subject. The latest studies suggest that simpler words can make it easier to analyse and apply complex new knowledge – because when we aren't busy grappling with unfamiliar words, brainpower is freed up for more advanced thinking.
MAKE A GOOD IMPRESSion
The strongest finding in plain English research is that it's preferred by readers, including readers who are highly literate or experts in the field. Plain English documents are seen as more credible and persuasive, and their authors as more intelligent and creative – even in professional and technical fields such as law or finance. This makes readers more likely to trust and act on information that's presented in plain English.
ACHIEVE YOUR AIMS
Of course, a plain English document is only as good as the information within it, and the written word is only one tool for communication and change. But all other things being equal, clear writing helps people to make choices, access services, understand their rights and participate in civic life. Organisations and governments that use plain English are better able to inform and persuade their constituents, while businesses that communicate with customers in plain English cut down on confusion and complaints, increasing satisfaction and saving money.
If you have information that deserves the best chance of reaching its audience, contact us for a quote.