Whatever your audience, all communications should be written in plain English and in a consistent style.
The Plain English Campaign describes plain English as 'text that is written with the reader in mind'. The aim is to ensure that the style, tone and vocabulary are appropriate to your target audience.
Some basic guidelines include:
- Know your audience – use the right language and tone.
- Use simple language – don't use a long word if there is a shorter equivalent. Avoid jargon.
- Be concise – keep sentences short and to the point.
- Use active rather than passive verbs.
- Have a clear message – focus on what you want to communicate and what you want your audience to do as a result.
It is useful to produce a simple style guide on written English as part of your overall branding guidelines. This can cover the use of plain English, appropriate terminology and consistent approaches to common topics.
There are a number of online style guides that offer useful examples and points of reference, for example:
Specialist help and training
The Plain English Campaign website also has free guides on topics such as how to write letters and reports, writing for the web and an A-Z of alternative words.
It is always worth using the skills of a specialist writer if it is important that you reach a particular audience. The Communications team can advise on good specialist and freelance writers - email email@example.com.