Write in Plain English
What is the Write in Plain English card?
Get your message understood the first time it’s read.
• In the UK, 1 in 13 do not use English as their first language
• One in 10 people have Dyslexia. Simple language lightens the cognitive load.
• Many sight loss charities recommend using simple language
• The National Autistic Society advise against the use of jargon
• People scan read, as we all have little time and short attention spans
How to use the Write in Plain English card
a. Use shorter words that more people understand:
“about” not “approximately”, “show” not “demonstrate”, “which includes” not “incorporating”.
b. Avoid jargon, acronyms (mostly) and buzzwords: “more for your money” not “bang for your buck”, “the latest” not “cutting edge”, “Early Access Programs” not “EAPs”.
c. Write conversationally in first person using the active voice. Active: “I love you”. Passive: “You are loved by me”.
d. Read your writing out loud, rewrite it if it doesn’t sound like something you’d say in conversation.
e. Structure content to reflect how people read:
• Use short sentences, 15 to 20 words.
• Make only one point per sentence.
• Use descriptive subheadings to break up text.
• Front-load sentences and bullet points (put the most useful words near the start).
• Use bullets to make multiple points easy to scan.
• Use numbered lists to break down sequential steps.
f. Test your content with real people. Run a Design Crit session.