Free guides on writing clearly
Plenty of hints and tips, all available free of charge.
We offer some free guidance booklets you can download. They are the Plain English Lexicon (see the Publications menu); Communicating with Older People (see Publications > Books); and the Plain Language Commission Style Guide (see Publications > Books).
What are the accreditation criteria?
This document gives you a quick summary 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?