Free guides on plain language
We offer several free booklets you can download, namely the ‘Plain English Lexicon’; ‘Communicating with Older People’; and the ‘Plain Language Commission style guide’. They’re all accessible from Books in the publications sub-menu.
What are the accreditation criteria?
Giving you plenty of clear-writing ideas.
15 Tips on Writing Plain English
- Is the purpose obvious or stated early and clearly?
- Is the information accurate, relevant and complete, anticipating readers’ questions and answering them?
- Are essential technical terms explained or defined?
- Is a contact point stated for readers who want to know more?
- Is the information well organized and easy to navigate, with good headings and sub-headings?
- Is there good use of illustrations, diagrams and summary panels?
Style and grammar
- Is the style right for the audience, with a good average sentence length (say 15–20 words), plenty of active-voice verbs, and reasonably short paragraphs?
- Is the document free of pomposity, verbosity and officialese (no aforesaids, notwithstandings, herebys, adumbrates, commencements and inter alias)?
- Is the text grammatically sound and well punctuated?
- Is capitalization consistent in text and headings?
- On any contents page, are headings consistent with those in the text?
Layout and design
- Does the document look good?
- Is the type easily readable and is there enough space between lines of type?
- Is there a clear hierarchy of headings and spaces?
- Have emphasis devices, such as bold type, been used well?