Your Points

Put your points positively when you can. When readers are faced with a negative they must first imagine the positive alternative then mentally cancel it out. So clarify your meaning by using positive rather than negative vocabulary.

(1) Even single negatives can cause confusion


  1. Vote for not more than one candidate.

  2. Vote for one candidate only.

(2) Multiple negatives – When two, three, or more negatives are gathered together in the same sentence, meaning may become obscure.


  1. ‘Dependant relative’ includes a member’s child or adopted child who has not attained the age of 18 or has not ceased to receive full-time education or training.

  2. ‘Dependant relative’ includes a member’s child or adopted child who is aged 17 or under or is in full-time education or training.

Related Links:

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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