Plain Talk is language your audience can understand the first time they read or hear it.
It’s the difference between “exercise your visual faculties prior to executing a jump” and “look before you leap.”
People often believe using pretentious language makes them seem intelligent. In reality, if you want to look smart, you should write simply, says Dr. Daniel Oppenheimer.
Plain English makes it easier for people to follow rules, fill out forms correctly, and understand medical advice.
Clear language also saves money. The Federal Communications Commission once needed five people to answer questions about its rules for citizen band radios. Putting the regulations into plain English freed all five staffers to take on other duties.
According to PlainLanguage.gov, “No one technique defines plain language. Rather, plain language is defined by results—it is easy to read, understand, and use.”
How can you make your writing easy for readers to understand? Use short sentences and simple words. Prefer active verbs to passive ones. Speak to the reader as “you.” Check out various guidelines to plain language to learn other techniques. Then test your writing with actual readers to be sure your message is clear.
- “What Is Plain Language?”—a condensed but comprehensive overview from the Plain Language Association International (PLAIN)
- Plain English Campaign’s Golden Bull awards
- Double-speak Riddles
- What not to write: The Plain English Campaign’s Gobbledygook Generator will produce random business jargon on demand. To avoid jargon, search for buzzwords or redundant phrases and find simpler language to replace them.