5 Golden Rules of Plain Language

5 Golden Rules of Plain Language

In honour of International Plain Language Day, here is our checklist of rules to follow to strengthen your messaging on any platform:

Rule no. 1: Know and focus on your audience

Understanding your audience is the cornerstone of plain language communication. Tailoring your message to the needs, preferences, and understanding of your target audience enhances clarity and comprehension. Whether it’s jargon-free medical information for patients or simplified legal terms for clients, align your language with what your audience can grasp easily.

Rule no. 2: Use simple and familiar words

Plain language promotes the use of everyday vocabulary that the majority of your audience can readily understand. Avoid unnecessary jargon, complex terminology, or convoluted sentence structures. Opt for simple and familiar words to make your message accessible and engaging.

Rule no. 3: Structure and organize information effectively

Present information in a logical and structured manner. Use headings, subheadings, bullet points, and numbered lists to break down complex ideas into digestible sections. This approach, along with the strategic use of figures and tables, facilitates copy skimming and aids in finding specific information quickly, especially in detailed reports.

Rule no. 4: Be concise and to the point

Brevity is key in plain language. Convey your message succinctly without losing essential information. Cut down on redundant words or phrases, ensuring that each word contributes to the clarity and meaning of your message.

Rule no. 5: Use an active voice and positive statements

Opt for an active voice to highlight the doer of the action and convey clarity and directness. Positive statements are also preferable as they emphasize what can be done rather than what should be avoided. This encourages action and a proactive approach.

Following these 5 Golden Rules of Plain Language can greatly enhance the effectiveness of your messaging. By putting your audience at the forefront, simplifying language, organizing information, being concise, and choosing the right voice, you pave the way for clear, impactful communication.