Keep it simple

The way you communicate can make or break your business.

If you’re not creating communications that can be read quickly and easily, by a large number of people, you could be missing out on engagement and opportunities.

This is where plain English can help you.

What is plain English?

Plain English is a way of writing that is clear, simple, easy to read and unambiguous. 

Some say it reduces subjects to the lowest common denominator, but that isn’t strictly true.

What it does do is convey your information, idea, issue or proposition in a way that’s easy to understand.

Why should I use plain English?

Plain English is easier to read and quicker to digest. This means your busy reader is more likely to understand your message on the first attempt — and they’ll thank you for saving them time.

  • It makes your writing accessible to a wider audience. This could open up new markets for your products and services that you may not have considered before.
  • Using plain English means your phone line won’t be tied up explaining things when it could be making sales. 
  • And you’ll spend less time trying to correct mistakes caused by misunderstandings.

What are the rules for writing in plain English?

There are a number of ways to use plain English in your written communications.

Here are five of the simplest rules to follow.

1. Keep your sentences short

Experts recommend a maximum of 20 words per sentence. 

Try to vary the length of each sentence to keep your reader interested.

2. Use active voice rather than passive voice

Active voice sounds animated and involved. Passive voice sounds detached and stuffy.

For example:

Active voice: You will choose the colour and style.

Passive voice: The colour and style will be chosen by you.

Another example:

Active voice: You can find all the information on our website.

Passive voice: The information can be found on our website.

3. Talk about you, we and us

Using you, we and us sounds more friendly and makes it easy for the reader to know who you’re talking to/about.

But remember to keep your copy customer focused by using you more than we and us.

4. Use the right words for your reader

Plain English is about using words your reader is familiar with and will understand. 

This means avoiding unnecessary jargon and unexplained acronyms.

5. Give direct instructions

If you want your reader to do something, be clear and say it directly.

For example:

Direct: Shop now

Indirect: Visit our online shop

Need some help to simplify your communications?

As a plain English copywriter, one of my specialist skills is translating complex propositions and ideas into clear, simple language that informs, explains and sells.

If you would like to widen your market, or improve the simplicity of your communications and would like some help, why not get in touch?

You can find out more about me and what I can do for you by visiting my website.

Image by: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay