Plain English Tip Sheet

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1. What matters most to your audience? Start with that!

Think about your audience: who are they and which part of your communication is  most important for them? What do they need to do?

Put the key message first in the:

2. Say “you” and “we”

Address your audience directly. Speaking to people in the third person creates  distance and is confusing.

3. Use active verbs most of the time

The active voice makes it easy to see who is doing what. It's clear who needs to take  action and what they need to do.

4. Write short sentences and paragraphs

5. Use lists

6. Use the simplest words that work in the context

People do understand the longer words, but their brains have to work much harder. ● Need – not require or requirement

7. Avoid nominalisations

They are nouns (thing words) made out of verbs (action words). They make it hard to  understand who is doing what.

8. Edit yourself – use the Hemingway app

Paste draft text into the, which:

9. Use pair-writing

Get a colleague to help you craft key communications and documents, especially if  they will be shared with many people. Critical questions they could ask:

10. Check the accessibility of your work for example using the Accessibility Checker in Microsoft Office.

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