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Plain English

Twenty-five years of battling gobbledygook
It is twenty-five years since Martin Cutts, director of the Plain Language Commission, conceived the original Plain English Campaign and co-founded it with a public shredding of official forms in Parliament Square on 26 July 1979.

What is plain English?

Plain English refers to:

the writing and setting out of essential information in a way that gives a co-operative, motivated person a good chance of understanding the document at first reading, and in the same sense that the writer meant it to be understood.

This means pitching the language at a level of sophistication that suits the readers and using appropriate structure and layout to help them navigate through the document. It does not mean always using simple words at the expense of the most accurate words or writing whole documents in kindergarten language.

Here are our top tips for keeping your writing user-friendly:

For more on plain English see Martin Cutt's The Quick Reference Plain English Guide or The Oxford Guide to Plain English.

Wed, 07 Nov 2001 10:22:43

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