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We like to keep things simple and straightforward. You want your important messages to be as clear as possible: we're here to help. That's really all there is to it.

If you use plain English you can save thousands of pounds every year. If you don't, you'll waste time, lose customers and damage your image. It couldn't be simpler.

Each of the icons above will take you to more information about the ways we can help you. If you'd like to know more, please email us or call 0114 257 1400 and ask for Dave Fox.

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We've tried to keep our site as uncluttered as possible. But we know that people are curious about what we do and often want to know more about plain English. So we've popped some interesting stuff down here out of sight, 'below the fold' as the marketing people call it. You'll find some other articles/thoughts if you scroll down our editing service page, our training services page and our accreditation page.

Why you should use plain English

If you use plain English you will do more business and improve your image:

You will also become more efficient and cut some of your costs:

Or to put it another way, organisations that use plain English improve their customer relations, and save time and money.

Here are just a few examples* of how organisations have dramatically reduced their costs and improved their customer relations by using plain English.

British Telecom (BT)

When BT produced a clearer bill in plain English it received around 25% fewer enquiries each quarter. Customers also paid their bills more promptly, improving cash flow and reducing the cost of collecting overdue bills. Before the change, BT had been receiving a million calls a year.

User manuals

When US computer manufacturer Allen-Bradley produced a new computer manual in plain English, calls to the company's support centre fell dramatically from more than 50 a day to only two or three a month.

UK Royal Mail

Before Royal Mail redesigned its redirection of mail form it had an 87% error rate when customers filled it in. The company was spending over £10,000 a week to deal with complaints and reprocess the incorrect forms. The new form reduced the error rate dramatically, so that Royal Mail saved £500,000 in the next nine months.

UK Central Government forms

In one of the earliest plain English initiatives the UK Government began a major review of its forms in 1983. By 1985 it had scrapped 15,700 forms, improved 21,300 and reviewed another 46,900. At the end of the initiative the Government estimated that it had saved about £9 million in printing and storage costs alone.

Of course, printing and storage costs are only the tip of the iceberg if your forms are inefficient. Coopers and Lybrand performed one study for the Department of Health and Social Security, and concluded that before the improvements the cost of errors on its forms was around £675 million a year.

*source: 'Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please' – Joseph Kimble, The Scribes Journal of Legal Writing, vol 6.

What about your organisation?

It's hard to say how much you could save by using plain English, but all your communications are important to your organisation. Some are the oil that keeps the business machine lubricated. Even more important are the ones that go to customers, prospective customers and the world at large. You are judged by these, and bad writing loses customers.

If you are selling the benefits of your service or product, what's the point if readers are going to switch off after the first sentence?

Governments and businesses have saved hundreds of millions of pounds, and improved their customer relations, by applying plain English techniques to their leaflets, letters and forms. If you aren't doing so already, it's time to put your own documents into plain English.

Plain English is for everyone

Don't fall into the trap of thinking that plain English is only important to people with poor literacy skills or with poor academic abilities. Plain English isn't 'dumbed-down' English and can be used for any kind of business writing, aimed at any audience.

Here are some good reasons to use plain English, whoever you're writing for:

What do we mean by 'plain English'?

There's no single, universally accepted definition of what plain English is, but the one we like is this:

'A message is in plain English if it gets its meaning across clearly and concisely to its intended audience, and creates the impression the writer was intending to create.'

Of course, this is just a definition and so is more about theory than practice. In more practical terms, if you're checking a piece of writing, ask yourself:

To help you write in plain English, follow the tips below.

Put yourself in your reader's shoes and use:

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