Use Words

Use words your readers are likely to understand. Seek out unusual words or phrases and replace them with plainer alternatives. For example, compare the officialese in the first statement with the clarity of the second.

  1. In the event of your being evicted from your dwelling as a result of wilfully failing to pay your rent, the council may take the view that you have rendered yourself intentionally homeless and as such it would not be obliged to offer you alternative housing.
  2. If you are evicted from your home because you deliberately fail to pay your rent, the council may decide that you have made yourself intentionally homeless. If this happens, the council does not need to offer you alternative permanent housing.

If you overuse the words in the left-hand column of the table, your writing could be perceived as pompous, officious, and long-winded.

Official Terms Plainer Alternatives
accordingly so
concerning about
due to the fact that as, because
for the purpose of to
interim (noun) meantime
nonetheless even so, however, yet
polemical controversial
supplementary extra, more
with regard to about, concerning

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Keep Sentences Short.
Use words your readers are likely to understand.
Use only as many words as you really need.
Prefer the active voice.
Use the clearest, liveliest verb to express your thoughts.
Use Vertical Lists to make complex materil understandable.
Keep Electronic Text Communication simple.
Put your points positively when you can.
Reduce cross-references to the minimum.
Try to avoid sexist usage.
Avoidable English Errors are so many.
Avoid fusty first sentences and formula finishes.
Put accurate punctuation at the heart of your writing.
Avoid being enslaved by seven writing myths.
Plan Before You Write.
Organize your material in a simple way.
Consider different ways of setting out your information.
Devote special effort to producing lucid instructions.
Use clear layout to present your plain words.

Plain English Index

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