What Is Plain Language, and Why Do I Need It?
Plain Language makes your content easy to understand, quick to read, while still being complete and accurate. Using Plain Language allows your information and message to reach a broad audience who may not speak the same language or have the same background knowledge of the subject.
Professor Robert Eagleson defines Plain Language best:
“Plain English is clear, straightforward expression, using only as many words as are necessary. It is language that avoids obscurity, inflated vocabulary and convoluted sentence construction. It is not baby talk, nor is it a simplified version of the English language. Writers of plain English let their audience concentrate on the message instead of being distracted by complicated language. They make sure that their audience understands the message easily.”
Who Should Use Plain Language?
Plain Language is critical to industries who need to share complex information with a broad audience, often during times of stress, such as:
These industries can be overly complex to the average person and require a lot of time and attention to navigate. In fact, sometimes Plain Language is required by law. The Plain Writing Act of 2010 requires federal agencies in the United States to write “clear government communication that the public can understand and use.”
By utilizing Plain Language, you can provide better service to your clients while spending less time and resources helping them understand key information.
Do’s and Don’ts of Plain Language
1. Do Consider Your Audience:
2. Don’t Use Jargon:
3. Do Simplify Terminology:
4. Don’t Use Long Sentences or Paragraphs:
The Power of Another Mind: Ask for Help
Plain Language takes practice. When starting out, you’ll have to review and revise your work multiple times.
The best way to identify jargon, complicated terminology, or problematic areas, is to enlist the help of someone unfamiliar with the subject. Ask them to highlight any terms they don’t understand and point out sections that are hard to follow. Then, focus on implementing the tips above and have them review the piece again.
If you struggle to implement Plain Language best practices, don’t hesitate to hire a professional editor. Copy editors and content editors, like the ones at Dream Write Creative, can save you time and free up your mind to work on the next piece.