Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What is plain language?

What is plain language?

Plain language is a strategy for making written and oral information easier to understand. It is one important tool for improving health literacy.

Plain language is communication that users can understand the first time they read or hear it. With reasonable time and effort, a plain language document is one in which people can find what they need, understand what they find, and act appropriately on that understanding.3

Key elements of plain language include:

Organizing information so that the most important points come first

Breaking complex information into understandable chunks

Using simple language and defining technical terms

Using the active voice

Language that is plain to one set of readers may not be plain to others.3 It is critical to know your audience and have them test your materials before, during, and after they are developed.

Speaking plainly is just as important as writing plainly. Many plain language techniques apply to verbal messages, such as avoiding jargon and explaining technical or medical terms.