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Why use Plain English in your business documents

Have you ever read a document – report, proposal, procedure or even email – and wondered what certain words or phrases meant?

Your reader or readers are more likely to act upon a written document if they understand what is required from them. In other words, using language that is familiar to your readers.

During the 1980's the Australian Government implemented the Plain English Policy. This meant that all government documents had to be written using Plain English. Many businesses have followed that example.

Today, it is common practice that business documents are written in Plain English.

What is Plain English writing?

Writing in Plain English means using simple rather than complex language.

For example, rather than writing:

A rendition of your vehicle expenses for last month has not yet materialised

You could write:

Please provide your vehicle expenses for last month

Which reads better for you?

Benefits

You will reap the benefits by considering the type of language that you use.

Examples could include your readers being able to:

  • Understand your request which leads to increased productivity
  • Follow the steps involved in a procedure which leads to consistency in work practices

The next time you write a document – be it a report, proposal, procedure or email – check that you are using Plain English.

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Maria Pantalone

Maria Pantalone is the author of Success Talks: Conversations with Everyday Leaders. Maria works with individuals and teams to make communication their strength so that their message is heard. She provides tailored programs in presentation skills, business writing and effective communication as a leader and team member. Maria’s programs help her clients to excel in their role and be recognised as leaders in their field.
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