Plain language is a way of presenting information that helps someone understand it the first time they read or hear it.

Using plain language makes good business sense. You’re able to communicate well with your clients and customers and give them what they want – information that is accessible and easy to understand. Readers want an effortless, readable and clear writing style. Plain language is clear language – it is simple and direct, but not simplistic.

Over the past 40 years, there has been a growing movement against the use of ‘gobbledygook’ in all written communications. Instead, plain language is used because it is clear and easy-to-read.

In many government and corporate settings, language use tends to favour acronyms, jargon and professional terminology. There are some circumstances where complex language is appropriate. However, in most forms of communication, plain language is preferable.

There are other circumstances where plain language does not go far enough to simplify information. For example, if members of the intended audience have an intellectual disability, Easy Read is more appropriate.

An example of our work in this area

2 document icons with an arrow pointing towards a single plain language document iconWe are a member of a panel of suppliers to the Australian Taxation Office for the Provision of Communication Services and, through this panel, have been engaged to edit hundreds of letters, email and SMS communications into plain language. Called ‘Outbound correspondence’, the letters, emails and SMS messages are targeted at a range of audiences, including everyone from the general public through to taxation specialists.

This work involves simplifying the language that the ATO uses in its correspondence with the ultimate intention of increasing compliance but also increasing engagement. Our goal is to help the ATO connect clearly and succinctly with the people it is targeting so they understand:

  • why they are receiving the correspondence
  • what they need to do about it
  • how they can do it
  • when they need to do it by.

You can read about more of our plain language projects under ‘Our work’.

Did you know?

We also offer plain language training workshops. Visit our training workshops page to find out more.