Why plain English?
Imagine a reform that generated one dollar for every one cent invested! Fanciful as this might sound, it's exactly what happened when one American state adopted plain English.
We know that complex and bureaucratic language is a barrier to taking part in society, especially for people with low literacy. Evidence shows that using plain English boosts social justice because it makes it easier for people to comply, understand their responsibilities and make better decisions. It increases the chances that everyone will understand your message, including adults who have difficulty reading. That's why 26TEN is building skills in plain English in Tasmania.
Using plain English:
- increases the chances that everyone will understand your message, including adults who have difficulty reading
- makes it easier for people to make better decisions
- means people make fewer mistakes, complaints and unnecessary queries, which increases satisfaction and efficiency
- makes instructions easier to follow which increases safety and compliance
- builds confidence in people using and delivering your service
- shows respect and consideration for your reader, which helps build better relationships.
- saves time for writers and readers.
Plain English is not about dumbing down information for the reader. It is about communicating with your readers in language they understand, whether they are specialists, colleagues, friends or clients.
Definition of plain English
“A communication is in plain language if its wording, structure and design are so clear that the intended audience can readily find what they need, understand what they find, and use that information.” Source: International Plain Language Federation