Sensory Trust information sheetAccessible information - plain language l what you want to tell them; not plain english l what they want and need to know; l what you want them to do as a result of High-quality learning environments are a necessary precondition for reading your information facilitation and enhancement of the l Decide what to say and in what order. ongoing learning process. l Think about the language your audience is likely to be familiar with. plain english l Weed out irrelevant information. Children need good schools if they are to learn properly. Structure l Summarise key points at the beginning of the piece.Plain language is not designed to corrupt l Start with the most importantand debase the glories of the English information your reader needs to know.language. It is designed to communicate l Use clear headings to break up the textprecisely the things you need to into useable chunks.communicate to your intended audience. l If some technical words are unavoidable,We use the term plain language because consider a glossary.many of the principles here can apply toinformation produced in any language. Style l Use language your audience willBenefits of plain language understand.Readers are more likely to: l Split your information into short, easilyl bother to read clear concise documents absorbed paragraphs. than long complex ones; l Keep sentences to an average of 15-20l understand what you are saying; words.l favour organisations that say things l Try to only have one concept per clearly. paragraph and one idea per sentence. l Be as brief as you can. The clearestInformation providers benefit because: sentence order is subject, verb, object.l your message is more likely to be For example: “I use olive oil” is better understood and acted upon; than “olive oil is what I use” or “olive oil is used by me”.l shorter documents require less paper; l Avoid abbreviations.l you can say more in the same space; l Avoid jargon.l translations into, for example, Braille are cheaper to produce and easier to use. l If you have to use particular words for the sake of accuracy, explain them in theGuidelines text the first time you use them.Before you start writing be clear about: l Keep punctuation simple andl who you are talking to; accurate. Many people are confused by semi-colons, colons, square brackets
and so on. Many people are confused by In brief sloppy or ambiguous use of punctuation.l Use direct language. Write as though 1 Using plain language benefits you and the reader you were talking to someone in the same room. 2 Think about who are you writingl Use the active rather than passive voice. for and use information and language that is appropriatel For example “we will decide” rather than “a decision will be made”. 3 Get someone else to read it, ideally someone whol Repeat words rather than using understands the target audience alternatives for the sake of variety and be careful using words like ‘it’, ‘this’ or 4 Keep it simple ‘they’ to refer back to something you have mentioned earlier. 5 Make sure that you usel Avoid phrases where a single verb will plain English for all written do. For example ‘deliver’ rather than information ‘arrange a delivery to’. www.plainenglish.co.ukIt’s not all bad newsThese are simply guidelines. The importantthing is that whatever you write shouldmake sense when you read it. Longsentences are not banned, varying thelength of sentences helps readability. Thereis no harm in breaking grammar rules ifit helps to make a meaning clearer, for The Sensory Trust promotes andexample, you can end a sentence with a supports the creation and managementpreposition! It is clearer to write “the people of outdoor spaces that can be used andwe talked to” than “the people to whom enjoyed by everyone, regardless of agewe talked”. There is no harm in starting or ability.sentences with And, But or Because if that Visit www.sensorytrust.org.ukbreaks a long sentence. or contact:Check your writing Sensory Trust, Watering Lane Nursery, Pentewan, St.Austell, Cornwall PL26There are a number of computer and other 6BEreading checks that can help to an extent.More information on reading tests can be Tel: +44 (0)1726 222900found at www.timetabler.com/reading. Fax: +44 (0)1726 222901html and a useful tool, the Bull Fighter Email: email@example.com available at www.fightthebull.com/bullfighter.asp . These tools are useful but The Sensory Trust is a registered charitythe best way, without a doubt, is to find (No. 1020670) and a company limitedsomeone appropriate to read out loud what by guarantee (No. 02811046)you have written. We often use phrasing in Registered Office: Watering Laneour written work that, while it looks naturalto us on the page, sounds clunky when readaloud. Test everything!