What is Plain English?

Plain English is a way of presenting information that helps someone understand it the first time they read or hear it.

When you use plain English, you:

  • use clear, concise and accurate language,

  • order your points logically, including only necessary detail, and

  • use clean design to make your writing more attractive and easier to follow.

Plain English is not a one-size-fits-all approach to presenting information or, indeed, an alternative format for only some people. It is about communicating directly to the intended reader or listener in language they understand, whether they are specialists, colleagues or members of the public. Most of us don't like reading through long passages of difficult text to find the main points, so why ask others to do so?


Five reasons why it's worth using plain English

  • It will help you get your message across to the one in four adults who may have literacy difficulties.
  • It can help you produce clearer health and safety notices and similar policy documents for your organisation, so increasing the likelihood of complying with the law.
  • It makes good business sense. Studies have shown that when you use plain English, your reader can better understand your information.
  • You will be able to provide more efficient customer service. Clearer information is shown to improve performance, reduce mistakes and lead to fewer complaints and repeated questions.
  • It's only fair - giving people the information they need in language they understand enables them to make informed choices, access their entitlements and meet their legal duties.


Plain English - a before and after example

Standard hire purchase contract term

Title to property in the goods shall remain vested in the Company (notwithstanding the delivery of the same to the Customer) until the price of the Goods comprised in the contract and all other money due from the Customer to the Company on any other account has been paid in full.

We will own the goods until you have finished paying for them.