Become a PlainLanguagePro certifier

There is no charge to become a PlainLanguagePro certifier.

If you become a PlainLanguagePro certifier you can place a PlainLanguagePro certification trademark on any document that meets the standards. You negotiate your charge for this service with your clients. There is a charge to register and upload a certified document (A$30 – $90). We suggest you include these charges in the certification fees you charge your clients.

Becoming a PlainLanguagePro certifier sets you apart from other writers, editors and consultants. As a freelancer, it gives you a marketing edge, even if you choose not to certify every document you work on. As an in-house specialist, you’ll be even more valuable to your organisation.

Benefits of being a certifier

Becoming an authorised PlainLanguagePro certifier sets you apart

Becoming a PlainLanguagePro certifier demonstrates you have specific attributes. It says you are different to other writers, editors and consultants.

The application process involves other PlainLanguagePro certifiers. They consider your application to make sure you have the required expertise and understanding. When you become a certifier, your peers will have acknowledged your skills and experience. They will have judged you to be an effective plain language professional.

Being a recognised expert in the field will make you more valuable to your clients or employer. And that can increase your income.

Becoming a PlainLanguagePro certifier gives you another product to sell

Certifers working as freelance contractors can sell a certification mark in addition to their regular writing services.

As a plain language professional, your work likely already meets the PlainLanguagePro standards. Registering the document so that you can include a PlainLanguagePro certification trademark requires very little additional effort. But it significantly increases the value of the document to your client.

What you charge for the additional value you provide is between you and your client.

Becoming a certifier increases your value to your organisation

Certifiers working as employees within an organisation can set the standard for internal and external written communication. You may become the organisation’s ‘gatekeeper’.

Other people in the organsiation will likely seek out your expertise to help them write plainly and communicate well. You may find your influence within the organisation grows as you drive excellence in written material.

The ability to communicate plainly and clearly is in high demand. It is one aspect of effective leadership.

Apply to become a PlainLanguagePro certifier

You must be working actively as a plain language professional and

  • have the attributes to become a PlainLanguagePro certifier – listed below
  • meet the certifier commitments (your authorisation may be revoked if you do not meet these commitments) – listed below
  • commit to assessing to the PlainLanguagePro standards and keeping the PlainLanguagePro rules – listed below.

Complete the form below to apply. Your application will be assessed by other plain language professionals – a peer assessment. Allow 4-6 weeks. If your application is approved, you’ll be included in the list of PlainLanguagePro certifiers on this site at no cost – unless you would rather not be listed.

PlainLanguagePro certifier attributes

Only natural persons (not businesses or other entities) may apply to become a PlainLanguagePro certifier.

To become a certifier, mastery of plain language concepts and practice is required. Applicants reveal their mastery through both a theoretical understanding of the principles of plain language and a practical demonstration of how they apply these principles in a completed document. Competence is assessed by other plain language professionals, ensuring a consistent level of competence across all PlainLanguagPro certifiers.

The assessment process recognises that effective plain language professionals develop expertise through a variety of pathways. There are no formal qualifications that can be relied on to conclusively provide the attributes needed to assess whether a document has been written in plain language. Some highly effective plain language professionals have formal qualifications in subject areas well removed from language (for example, science communicators). Some effective plain language professionals have no formal qualifications, but have developed mastery of their craft through experience and informal mentoring.

Plain language professionals authorised to apply a PlainLanguagePro BRONZE mark to a document must Evidence required Attributes judged suitable if
Have completed a course of training in writing in plain language (or plain English) listed here A certificate of completion or similar A copy of the certificate is sighted
Have at least two years’ experience writing or editing documents in plain language Relevant work history The equivalent of at least two years in roles where writing or editing in plain language was a core task
Be actively engaged in writing, editing or reviewing documents in plain language A description of plain language work performed Effort involves at least 100 hours of plain language work per year
Be able to explain the principles of plain language you apply in your work A written description of plain language principles The description is in general agreement with accepted tenets of plain language
Be able to write plainly. Three example documents The documents are judged to be written plainly.
Plain language professionals authorised to apply a PlainLanguagePro SILVER mark to a document must Evidence required Attributes judged suitable if
Have all the attributes to be able to apply a PlainLanguagePro BRONZE mark to a document As for PlainLanguagePro BRONZE As for PlainLanguagePro BRONZE
Knowledge of user research processes Description of user research process used Processes are likely to effectively discover user needs and preferences
Ability to effectively incorporate user research when developing documents Description of the user needs and preferences discovered for the example documents provided User needs and preferences are documented and have influenced the construction of the example documents.
Plain language professionals authorised to apply a PlainLanguagePro GOLD mark to a document must Evidence required Attributes judged suitable if
Have all the attributes to be able to apply a PlainLanguagePro SILVER mark to a document As for PlainLanguagePro SILVER As for PlainLanguagePro SILVER
Knowledge of user testing processes Description of user testing process used Processes are likely to effectively test whether user needs are met, including whether the user understands the document.
Effectively use testing results to inform document development Description of the tests performed and results for the example documents provided The test results demonstrate user needs and preferences are substantially met and that the document is likely to be understood by the user or class of users of the example documents.

PlainLanguagePro certifier commitments

  • certify and register at least 10 documents each calendar year as meeting PlainLanguagePro standards (this demonstrates you are actively working as a plain language professional)
  • consider up to 3 applications each year from people wishing to become a certifier (peer assessment)
  • review up to 6 registered documents each year (to a maximum of 60 A4 pages in total each year) to check they meet the PlainLanguagePro standards (peer review to ensure standards are upheld)
  • comply with the PlainLanguagePro certification trademark rules.

PlainLanguagePro standards and rules

Assessing the PlainLanguagePro BRONZE standard

In assessing whether or not a document meets the PlainLanguagePro BRONZE standard, a certifier must be satisfied that the intended reader will likely be able to read and comprehend the document as a whole without undue effort. In making this judgement, the certifier must:

  • consider relevant characteristics of the intended reader, or class of readers
  • consider the circumstances in which the user will encounter or use the document
  • consider the likelihood that the reader will know the meaning of all the words used (unfamiliar words may be introduced in the document if they are explained with familiar words)
  • consider the complexity of the ideas presented and the readers’ likely existing knowledge and the logical flow of content
  • consider the way sentences have been crafted and the ease of extracting meaning
  • consider readability metrics
  • compare the document with other documents that have been acknowledged as being plainly written
  • consider the helpfulness of any graphic devices and document layout.

Assessing the PlainLanguagePro SILVER standard

In assessing whether or not a document meets the PlainLanguagePro SILVER standard, a certifier must be satisfied that

  • the document meets the PlainLanguagePro BRONZE standard
  • user needs and preferences, and the document owner’s intent, have been considered when crafting the document.

A written description of the results of the user research must be provided when registering a document at the PlainLanguagePro SILVER standard.

Assessing the PlainLanguagePro GOLD standard

In assessing whether or not a document meets the PlainLanguagePro GOLD standard, a certifier must be satisfied that

  • the document meets the PlainLanguagePro SILVER standard
  • user testing has been conducted on the document that demonstrates the user or class of users the document is intended for understand the content and its implications, and that this understanding is consistent with the document owner’s intent. It may also confirm that the design and delivery of the document is consistent with the users’ needs and preferences.

A written description of the results of the user testing must be provided when registering a document at the PlainLanguagePro GOLD standard.