If you used plain English in your emails, web pages, letters, reports, leaflets and forms you could save thousands of pounds this year. If those documents aren't as clear as they could be, you could be losing money and customers – year after year. It is as simple as that.
How much time do your people spend communicating with each other, with customers, with prospective customers? How many messages do they produce in a day, a week, a year? If those messages aren't clear, think how much time they could be wasting. Does your organisation suffer from any of these problems:
- people spending more time in meetings trying to decide what reports are saying than discussing their recommendations?
- instructions and policy documents that staff ignore because they don't understand them?
- 'explanatory' documents that lead to even more puzzled phone calls from customers?
- customer documents that even your staff struggle to understand?
- important letters that customers simply don't reply to?
- forms that people always fill in incorrectly, or don't fill in at all?
These problems used to plague most organisations, but over the last two decades a 'culture of clarity' has been gaining ground all over the English-speaking world. In the United Kingdom, government departments, banks, insurance companies, local councils and many other organisations have realised that clear communication is actually a good idea. Instead of writing to impress or confuse, they are now writing to inform and explain. They are using plain English to do this.
We're proud to have been part of this change. Since 1996 we've been helping all kinds of organisations to use plain English and reap the rewards through cost savings and improved customer relations. However big or small your organisation, we have the resources and skills to help you.
- If you are already using plain English, our corporate membership and document accreditation schemes will help you get the recognition you deserve.
- If you've still some way to go, our editing and training services will help you get there.
If you think you might need our help, why not contact us today? After all, your competitors may be using plain English already.
© The Word Centre
Support reps: Your mastery of tech is useless if you're unable to communicate your knowledge simply. Don't make people feel stupid. #Jargon
BBC: Dental charity blames bad baby teeth on 'child neglect' http://t.co/yuU1CVniiA#DentalHealth
reading an academic report. Brain melted. It's just the words 'framework' and 'partnership' over and over. Like binary #sotired #jargon
When did we replace the word "detail" with "granular"? I'm always the last to know #managementspeak #jargon
The Student Loan Company has stopped sending out misleading letters that pretended to be from a debt-recovery firm http://bit.ly/1qlWVHV
#plainEnglish tip: if you’re tempted to use a complex style, remember how simple yet profound many sayings are: eg 'More haste, less speed'.
We hit a ‘Fix the #BigSix’ milestone - find out why @Ofgem has called on @CMAgovUK to investigate the #energy market http://whi.ch/cmaenergy
Do you think that terms like 'self-care' or 'patient activation' mean anything to the real users? #jargon #selfcare14
Payday lender Wonga to pay £2.6m compensation for 'unfair and misleading' debt collection practices http://bit.ly/1nEjLad
Whom do we trust the most? Charities have slipped down the list, but government and politicians are bottom http://bit.ly/1wrTOA2
'Mullered' and 61 other words for being beaten at sport (seems appropriate) http://bbc.in/1iAUdNJ
4,000 English households risk losing homes every week, say @Shelter http://bit.ly/1j6VJAQ
Which? research: online ticket companies are still charging a huge range of fees that are not revealed 'upfront' bit.ly/SXrMNK
Yet another piece with the 'new' idea that doctors shouldn't use #jargon on patients. It's not about banning words folks, its about empathy!
I've just witnessed someone using the phrase "conversation innovation funnel" without flinching. Impressive.
The poorest fifth of UK households are significantly worse off than the poorest fifth in other W European countries http://bit.ly/1nfK06C
'Leverage' is not a verb, thank you. #jargon
Which? survey: 65% of people don’t trust pension providers to offer impartial guidance on their retirement options http://bit.ly/1n8F3fU
How Gen Motors' calling a flawed ignition switch a 'customer convenience issue' & not a safety problem cost 13 lives http://onforb.es/1xxF6sV
Not only did banks mis-sell PPI, but some of them may have underpaid compensation to many customers who were mis-sold http://bbc.in/1kBUjDE
About to go into a meeting where I just know technical Work Bingo will dominate #jargon
If I hear the phrase "reach out" one more time... #jargon #annoying
Report from the debt charity StepChange: 15 million people in UK report one or more signs of financial difficulty http://bit.ly/1sGbDKE
Council tax arrears becomes the biggest debt problem reported to @CitizensAdvice #debt http://www.debtwizard.com/news/consumer-issues/1253-council-tax-arrears-becomes-the-biggest-debt-problem-reported-to-citizens-advice …
Every building society that turned into a bank has failed or been taken over. We tell the story of demutualisation - http://s.coop/1uer6
#plainEnglish tip: Use 'personal pronouns': 'I', 'we' and 'you' (& 'our' and 'your' etc which derive from them) to make your writing human.
13m households in UK have probs with their internet connection & nearly half have much slower speeds than expected http://bit.ly/1nbBTge
Ok, I'm ready to be done with "deep dive" as a phrase for everything. "In depth" can stay. #jargon
Pfizer letter to select committee: (Astra deal is) "An opportunity to bring together the “best of the best” of each organisation". #jargon #plainEnglish
It used to be a train station. Now it's a "calling point" @chilternrailway #jargon #plainEnglish
Someone is trying to sell us their 'Multichannel Marketing Automation Platform'. Honestly have no clue what that might be #jargon #plainEnglish
Having a clear and readable #complaints procedure might mean more complaints at first, but you *need* those complaints if you are to improve #plainEnglish
My least-favourite phrase at the mo: 'informed by' as in 'our policy has been informed by ...' No it hasn't. #plainEnglish #jargon
Doing some training on our Project Management method and have learned that we have a process called Perform Focus Synergy Sessions. #jargon
#plainEnglish tip: Don’t think planning or proofreading are a waste of time. It will cost you more time if your msg is unclear or inaccurate
Reliance on #jargon is a rather transparent attempt to hide your terror that we'll find out you really don't do a great deal. #plainEnglish
Are there any political parties in the UK #localgov elections specifically promising plain English/language public services? #le2014 #plainEnglish
Are you off to a gig or show this weekend? If high #TicketFees tick you off, why not add your name to our campaign http://whi.ch/PlayFair
Does your organisation have a 'blind spot' about the #clarity of its documents? Most organisations do. http://bit.ly/1lAFC05 #plainEnglish
Victims of miscarriages of justice receive less support after release than prisoners guilty of a crime. http://bit.ly/1iRvgeD
Seriously, sales dude, stop saying "thought leader." I can't take you seriously. At all.... #jargon #plainEnglish
What is the law about tooth whitening? Read all you need to know about safe tooth whitening: http://safetoothwhitening.org #SafeToothWhitening
Which research: 'Bank staff can’t give customers basic information about the Financial Services Compensation Scheme' http://bit.ly/1jD8i8Q #plainEnglish
I got a copy of the changes to be made in learning disability provision in Oxfordshire and can’t understand a word of it. #jargon #pathways #plainEnglish
Consultancy that took upfront fee of £165 per customer for council tax banding challenges helped in just 1% of cases
Terrible #conference #jargon:coalface, "to knife and fork", "inverse segue way", "results are skewered by..", "secret sauce" #givemestrength #plainEnglish
99% of you said companies should scrap high-rate no's for customer helplines in 2013 http://whi.ch/130zF9y In 2014 banks told to ditch them
“Only 20%” of NHS Trust boards say they use complaint information to review & improve patient safety -Julie Mellor, health service ombudsman
Just included the phrase "enhanced shareability" in this plan. Yes, I hate myself too right now. #jargon #socialmedia #plainEnglish
How many times an article is liked or shared online bears no relation to how much people actually read it http://bit.ly/1oQw608
FCA: many customers are confused about costs and pay too much for #overdrafts. Overdraft market worth £8bn a year. #plainEnglish
#plainEnglish tip: Help your readers find what they are looking for quickly. Use contents lists, headings & sub headings, and bullet lists.
Long awaited bailff reform aims to raise standards and eliminate agressive bailiffing http://ow.ly/vxZjq
The real cost of funds: five hidden charges. Fund managers say they charge 0.75pc but the real costs are far higher http://bit.ly/1hlgZYh #plainEnglish
FCA: Three quarters of financial advisers fail to give clients enough information about the cost of their services http://bit.ly/1mUZde1 #plainEnglish
I have been hearing people use the word "leverage" as a verb with increasing frequency. But it is a noun. Perhaps I missed the memo. #jargon #plainEnglish
Judge asks for plain English version of bankruptcy plan for Detroit's public workers ahead of vote on pension cuts http://bit.ly/1pVPSSU #plainEnglish
"We are segregating the delivery of the solution along architectural lines" - best email today #jargon #worklife #plainEnglish
When you're reading the labels remember that ‘no added sugar' doesn't necessarily mean that the product is sugar free http://www.dentalhealth.org/tell-me-about/topic/caring-for-teeth/diet …
FCA to get tough with payday lenders "Our processes will probably force about 1/4 of the firms out of the industry." http://bbc.in/1gWNFY2
#plainEnglish tip: Always read through and revise everything you write. No one gets it right first time. Then have someone check it for you.
Feel free to drop in a full stop & resist urge of running circles around the point you're trying to make #academic #jargon #incomprehensible #plainEnglish
http://www.patientopinion.org.uk An independent site where you can leave feedback about yr experiences of UK health services, good or bad. Great idea!
"Vibrant hub initiative strategy". Ehhh?. #jargon #nonsense (cc )
Just reading a sentence. As Eric Morecambe nearly said: "it's got all the right words, but not necessarily in the right order" #plainEnglish
"The social strategy is an initiative of the integral overall marketing mix" sorry WHAT? #jargon #nonsense
Richard Branson Says To Avoid Business Jargon - Business Insider http://ow.ly/uM6dx #business #jargon
#jargon alert: if the new owner of your #football club talks about 'this brand' that's an amber alert; 'this franchise' = definite red alert #plainEnglish
Disturbing and repulsive: A 26 yr-old jobseeker tried to add a senior exec of a job bank on LinkedIn. Her response... http://bit.ly/1kFlSdB
Which? research: people are facing a distressing 'maze of confusing advice and information' when seeking care http://bit.ly/1eOF1oB #plainEnglish
As @einstein might say, we need to spend more time clarifying what our question is, before trying to answer it. #nhsparticipation
#plainEnglishtip When you’ve finished writing, read it aloud. If there are probs with complex or unusual words, you’ll hear where they are.
Which? research: despite Ofgem's suggested 'simplified' tariffs only 1 in 3 people tested could find the best deal http://bit.ly/1hi99uv #plainEnglish
I hate the phrase "in terms of". Take a look at this paragraph. #jargon
If you want the public to really care about what you do, cut the indecipherable #jargon.... Embedding a dignity intervention tool' indeed!
Which? research: a third (34%) of people who have had a problem with public services in the past year didn’t complain http://bit.ly/1cBAwCu
FCA to review payday lenders' debt-collection practices. Over a 1/3rd of payday loans are repaid late or not at all. http://bit.ly/1qv6cgC
Do you think it’s unfair that payday lenders charge huge fees for late payments? Sign our petition http://whi.ch/CleanUpCredit
Reply from a health-info site when I pointed out that their articles could be a lot clearer: 'Oh, we've no budget for that!'. #plainEnglish
From an unnamed council: "These targets will be inexplicably linked to the monitoring regime for the strategy" #bureaucracyhowlers
in my 1st week in housing, I had to go and inspect some properties listed as "reverse staircased" #NHFComms14 #plain English
#plainEnglish tip: Aim for an average sentence length of 15 to 20 words. Try to have no more than one or two ideas in most of your sentences
Jargon doesn't make you sound smarter; it makes you sound the other thing. - RA #jargon
So "assembly on site" meant "take the protective covering off"!
Agency trying to woo my company cheerfully offers to do all our "ideating." Let me slap somebody.
It always amazes me how many organisations think their documents are great just because _they_ can understand them ok. #jargon #plainEnglish
Just for future reference, there is no such word as "ideate" #advertising #jargon
#plainEnglish tip: write ‘actively’ rather than ‘passively’. For example: ‘the boss closed the door’, not ‘the door was closed by the boss’.
No one says their car "has faulted". No one says their phone "has faulted". Yet rail companies tell us trains "have faulted". #jargon
Excellent blog by @adrianshort from 2012 on building better council websites -- just as relevant today http://bit.ly/1gMGpK8
UK Cabinet Office & search engines to crack down on copycat sites that charge for services gov't provides for free http://bit.ly/1hBxbm6
BBC to Ross McEwan of RBS: "Are you going to cut branches?" McEwan: "Branch numbers are trending off..." #plainenglish
FCA publishes tough new rules to govern the conduct of payday lenders and debt management companies. http://bit.ly/1obqo36
Vote in the People's Choice Award for best #plainEnglish summary of a science paper #A2Ucomp http://wp.me/p1zNUn-KM via @SDenegri
It's shocking that some of the biggest #energy companies are sitting on millions of pounds worth of families' cash http://whi.ch/NC7EOT
Ofgem tells #BigSix energy firms to return £400million to consumers from closed accounts http://bbc.in/1fNS0uv
#plainEnglish tip: Use everyday, familiar words whenever you can. Don’t use a complicated word where a simple one will do the same job.
Can anyone help me rid the world of the phrase "transformational change"? What next, eggy eggs? Handy hands? #jargon
We're urging MEPs to reject the Common European Sales Law today as it will reduce the rights of UK consumers
What on earth does risk stratification in a health and social care context mean? #jargon
Payday lenders refuse to act after @WhichCampaigns calls for default fees to be reduced. Time for the FCA to step in: http://www.which.co.uk/campaigns/money-payday-loans-overdrafts/FCA-must-intervene-on-high-default-fees/ …
If the label 'National Insurance' is 'misleading' and should be changed, what can we say about 'Value Added Tax'? http://dailym.ai/1fikI1T
The taking-money-off-people-without-them-noticing departments will be on overtime after MIFID II plans for honesty and clarity passed by EU.
Yes! #jargon #credibility "hijacking normal words and using them in odd ways to make them sound "businessy."
Which? petition to get insurers to also show cost of previous year's insurance on renewal notices http://bit.ly/1bocudw #plainenglish
New NHS data-sharing scheme in England for medical records delayed by six months due to poor impact of comms campaign http://bbc.in/1mrp291
#plainEnglish tip: Plan your report & get yr plan approved. Then no one can say ‘what you’ve written is great, but it wasn’t what I wanted’
"Engage an understanding of the strategy loop". Your daily nonsense talk from people who don't understand #plainenglish #business
Despite the fuss and advance publicity, fewer than a third of adults remember getting the NHS leaflet on data sharing http://bbc.in/1gAtMDm
When meetings are boring I like to write down #jargon people use. Unpack the process, at the coalface, good callout, create space to align
40% of consumer insurance complaints are upheld by the Financial Ombudsman so worth using if you're fighting for flood damage pay out.
Pension firms guilty of not using #plainEnglish when selling annuities to consumers, says Financial Ombudsman Service http://bit.ly/1iW4SPv
#plainEnglish tip: If a lot of people are going to read your document, always test it first on a representative sample of the readership.
Key note speech is turning into key word speech. #jargon #gibberish
Banks & building societies using high-rate phone numbers for their flood helplines. Nice that they're as humane and public spirited as ever.
30 seconds into this meeting and I've heard "deliverables" 4 times.... #jargon #gonnabealongday
#plainEnglish tip: If you’re using a Q&A approach, always ask questions that real people would ask. Then make sure you actually answer them.
Thought you knew what 'affordable' meant? Think again, if it's 'affordable housing' you have in mind http://bit.ly/LrcCwq #misleading #plainEnglish
Are your documents damaging your chances of success? Why you need to use #plainEnglish http://bit.ly/1jLFhpU
Is it unreasonable to get irritated when writers keep using 'those' when they mean 'people'? #offputting #plainEnglish please
Good article about how using #jargon and not #plainEnglish can destroy your business http://bit.ly/1eiJVgA Applies to any profession/field.
That's the problem with editing medical leaflets - when a furniture firm emails me about a 'new stool collection' I just don't want to know.
Always bothered by designers who don't give a monkey's about web accessibility for people with disabilities. Not their problem = no problem.
Why do medical leaflets read like an interview with a well-meaning but patronising doctor? Authors too close to the subject! #plainEnglish
Dilbert on #managementspeak and #jargon #plainEnglish http://bit.ly/1blVfUs
#plainEnglish tip: Use bullet lists to help important information stand out, to make choices clear and to break up complicated sentences.
Work is a #jargon spouting factory: 'keep it top line', 'email me by COB', 'we need more shape-shifters'...Shape-shifters...really?!
Any changes to #phone contract terms, pricing or otherwise, must be communicated clearly & transparently say @Ofcom http://whi.ch/1eSHLlG
I was a bit confused when I came across this in our hotel bathroom because down our way, we call it soap
#plainEnglish tip: Read your writing out loud and ask yourself "Is this what I would say to someone if I was able to talk to them instead?"
High charges are one of the biggest factors that tip borrowers into a spiral of debt. Help us #CleanUpCredit http://whi.ch/1foRWmV
HS2 sent nearly 150 letters telling people they would need to move out of their homes for 203 weeks. They meant “two or three weeks”.#whoops
Which? survey: a year on from the horsemeat scandal, councils are struggling to enforce hygiene rules http://bit.ly/1a42YvI
It seems we are past the point of being humans that our elected officials are accountable to- now we are simply, "the taxpayers." #jargon
#plainEnglishtip Don’t forget your manners. Say ‘please’ when you want your readers to do something. This also helps you avoid being abrupt.
Which? believes payday lenders are 'acting unlawfully' by charging excessive default fees. Unfair Contract Terms regs http://bit.ly/1eA7TBB
#plainEnglish tip: To have an workable sentence you only need one idea. So always use short sentences to make punchy points & ask questions.
The high level of complaints & volume of #PPI cases going to the @Financialombuds show that the banks still need to transform their culture
Is that a job description or fortune cookie advice? Sometimes I can't tell. #jargon
Ugh - the report I am reading from a consultancy (who shall remain nameless) just used 'dashboard' as a verb. #jargon #lingobingo
30% off our online and downloadable products til 31 Jan. Please use coupon code 71F25F8D at checkout http://bit.ly/1hveJNV #plainEnglish
Accessibility is not something we add to a website, but something we start with and risk losing with each enhancement. It is to be retained.
To 'demise' someone when you mean 'sack', just one winner of The Irish Times 2013 Golden Flannel awards http://bit.ly/JYAmaE #plainEnglish #jargon
Strange how everyone thinks they get too many #emails from colleagues, but no one ever thinks they send too many . . .
User centred design approach. Human centred design. I've heard this so much in #2013 #jargon #plainEnglish
Why do managers keep saying 'this football club' instead of the name? Is it because they come and go so quickly they forget where they are? #plainEnglish
We need to make ticket companies end unfair #ticketfees. The more signatures, the louder our voice: http://whi.ch/PlayFair cc @robinince
Some of biggest UK retailers giving consumers incorrect information on their rights under the Sale of Goods Act http://bit.ly/IYe5d8 #plainEnglish
#plainEnglish tip: Always remember to ‘talk’ to your reader, so that your writing will appear warm, human and friendly -- just like you!
Payday lender fined £175,000 by Information Commissioner for illegal spam texts http://goo.gl/CGnoVv
Which?: fees for booking tickets online are often hidden and unclear, and 80% of recent customers feel ripped off. http://bit.ly/1c8WKKU
"Scalable" is my favorite word. *jumps off bridge* #buzzwords
When did useful hints and tips become “hacks”? #lifehack #jargon #webculture
#plainEnglish tip: When you read your writing, ask yourself ‘How would I *feel* if I was the reader? Am I creating a good impression?’
If anyone wants to know why uk education is failing then turn bbc breakfast on now. We are good because "we teach the whole child!" #jargon
Wish people being interviewed would stop saying 'absolutely' when they just mean 'yes'. #plainEnglish
"Bench marking, working SMART, moving forward" are all redundant phrases in my opinion #jargon
#PlainEnglish tip: Plan it, write it, read it, rewrite it, forget it (24 hrs), reread it, rewrite it, have it proofread, test it, publish it
Lots of people are now operating or have expertise "in this space"… did I miss a memo?? #jargon
Why do the words 'robust and transparent' immediately make me suspicious? #jargon #lipservice
#plainEnglish tip: A form is a substitute for a well-planned interview. Ask simple, sensible questions and you should get sensible answers.
Talk on 'intelligent procurement for infrastructure delivery & network outcomes' is really 'how to widen roads' #jargon
Supermarkets are still promoting confusing and misleading 'deals' despite commitment not to. http://bbc.in/1h04MaM
Term just used in a meeting: "let's gameify this" #jargon
Is it just me? I'm getting increasingly annoyed by the use of the adjective 'robust' in HE context to masquerade feeble procedures #jargon
@TheKingsFund Sick of hearing "we are putting the patient at the centre". Do not wish to be "put" anywhere thanks #kfpatientexp
#plainEnglish tip: Talk *to* your readers, not about them. So use ‘you’ instead of ‘applicant’, ‘claimant’, ‘borrower’, ‘tenant’ and so on.
NHS England warns GPs to stop using expensive 084 numbers for patients' calls to surgeries http://bit.ly/1ecBOUa
Only 15% of consumers trust energy companies to act in their best interests. Which? survey http://bit.ly/19pFHBp
Really despicable rent arrears notice, full of #jargon. And look at the threat to involve social services. Appalling. #plainEnglish
Some of these research articles should rename their "discussion" section to "ramblings." #jargon #wordy #bye
Which? calls on the chancellor to use autumn statement to cut the big six energy companies down to size.http://bit.ly/1hpjiaT
Let's have ownership, place, and community FULLY instead of 'a sense' of place, ownership, or community, for crying out loud! #urban #jargon
Just done a great #plainEnglish training day with teachers at infant school, but all sitting on tiny chairs around tiny tables. Brilliant!
#plainEnglish tip: When you’ve finished writing, read it aloud. If there are any problems with complex language, you’ll hear where they are. #jargon
We have to flagpole this to manage expectations before close of play. Its a total no-brainer paradigm shift. http://bit.ly/18Jz2Sg #Jargon
#plainEnglish tip: If your topic is complex, use a mind map to organise the info. This will also give you a detailed plan for your document.
People should be in control of their credit – @TheFCA must put a stop to unsolicited increases in credit limits #CleanUpCredit
Article taking council to task for suggested new department names, eg 'works' now =
'infrastructure services' #jargon #plainEnglish
The phrase "laser-focused" appeared in the transcripts of 250+ earnings calls/investor events in 2013. #jargon
#plainEnglish tip: Plan first. Decide what you want your doc to cover, who you want to read it, and what you want them to do as a result.
Someone has just invited me to "an ideation workshop." I kid ye not ! Aaaaaagh #plainenglish
70% of travel firms using high-rate phone numbers for customer services or complaints. Which? http://bit.ly/18QRfwf8
Two posters in the enterprise centre. Poster 1 says 'Great Minds Think Alike'; the second says 'Think Differently'. #cliches #jargon
#plainEnglish tip: If you can start your message by saying ‘Thank you’ then do. It’s polite and you've immediately involved your reader.
Some companies still charging rip-off surcharges for booking by credit card. Which? survey http://bit.ly/17AYoB8
If staff complain that your customers can't fill forms in correctly, the problem's likely to be with yr forms not yr customers #plainEnglish #jargon
#plainEnglish tip: Even well-educated people get confused or ‘switch off’ when faced with #jargon. So don’t show off: use everyday language.
Working my way through a pile of emails with example after example of jargon. It really riles me. Plain English please #assetmanagement
Try and go for a whole day at work tomorrow without saying the word "communicate" - I bet you can't. #plainenglish #jargon
Online #plainEnglish phrase book. Use this coupon code 9BCEDF9D to get 30% off a year's subscription http://bit.ly/XqeOHF
Notice how focus of this article is on patients' 'ignorance' of #jargon rather than Drs' inability to communicate #plainEnglish
"The premium material fits athletically" ... What does that even MEAN? #jargon #notbuyingit #plainEnglish
#PlainEnglish tip: Don't write or edit by numbers. Really care whether the reader understands you. There's no substitute for caring!
We want supermarkets to help people find the best deal by displaying simpler pricing. Find out about our campaign http://whi.ch/16HC06e
Record low numbers switching #fuel suppliers. Proof that #tariffs so confusing that people have given up comparing? http://bbc.in/1eK2FGS
CCTV is a "city management tool" says drone on #r4today programme. #jargon
@ProfJoeKimble Interesting that focus of article, and quotes, is on patients' 'ignorance' rather than Drs' inability to communicate clearly