Use of plain English
In all communications, plain English principles should be adopted – we write engaging content appropriate to the audience and which easily gets the message across in a friendly way. This approach also has the advantage of being faster to write and faster to read, so you can get your message across more often and more easily.
- Remember to cover the basic questions – who, what, where, when, how and why. Try and think, if I were to receive this, what questions may I have.
- Keep in mind the audience you are trying to reach, without making assumptions about their knowledge base or views.
- Use words that are appropriate for the reader – say exactly what you mean, using the simplest words that fit. This does not necessarily mean only using simple words, just words that the reader will understand.
- Avoid using specialist jargon. Keep to everyday English whenever possible – imagine talking to your reader across a table.
- Where possible, use the active, rather than the passive form of a verb as it can make the sentence simpler and shorter. For example, ‘we have decided’ rather than ‘it has been decided that’.
- Use ‘you’ and ‘we’.
- Keep your sentences short – stick to one main idea in a sentence and to an average of 15 to 20 words.
- And always check that your writing is clear, helpful, human and polite.