Prove that it’s plain
Many organisations claim to produce documents in plain language. But merely having the words ‘plain language’ or ‘plain English’ in a document title does not guarantee the document has been plainly written.
A PlainLanguagePro mark proves there has been a deliberate effort to make the document plain.
Confidence a document is fit for purpose.
PlainLanguagePro certification trademarks provide document owners with confidence that their documents have been prepared with care and a dedication to meeting the needs of the users of their documents. It increases their confidence that documents will communicate effectively and deliver the intended message to the user.
The PlainLanguagePro certification trademarks provide confidence that a document has been professionally written using plain language principles and processes.
PlainLanguagePro certification trademarks may also provide document owners with a potential defence against a charge of ‘reckless writing’ and related legal action.
‘Reckless writing’ refers to preparing a document without exercising a deliberate and considered concern for the intended reader, or class of readers, or a writer failing to apply their mind to consider how the document will be understood.
A plain language standard benefits the community
There is a growing body of hard evidence demonstrating that using plain language makes documents more understandable. Plain language reduces the risk of miscommunication and misunderstanding. It reduces the time taken to read and understand documents.
The worldwide plain language movement has been saying for decades that merely providing a document that is complete and accurate is insufficient. Information must be written clearly and concisely – and in a way that the majority of users can comprehend it quickly. Users should both understand the information and know what to do with it. An effective document takes readers’ needs and preferences into account rather than being solely focused on what the writer wishes to say.
Increasingly, people, especially consumers of financial services and insurance products, are complaining that they didn’t understand a document because it had been poorly structured and written. Important information is often buried in a lengthy document, and the style of writing makes extracting meaning difficult. This disadvantages readers, especially less able readers.
In manufacturing or construction environments, documents that are not written plainly may result in workers misunderstanding and using incorrect work practices. The level of risk this introduces depends on the operating environment, but may be significant.
Plain language (sometimes called plain English) is being preferred by a number of government bodies and law makers. For example,
The Office of Parliamentary Counsel has been active in encouraging the use of plain language in legislation and in developing and using plain language techniques.
…, we have incorporated plain language drafting into all of our work. ….
We prefer to use the term “plain language” rather than “plain English” because we believe that it covers a wider range of techniques and practices.
Information that is written in plain language helps people to understand the law and the legal assistance available to them. It can also contribute to and enhance an agency’s service delivery. For example, when people clearly understand who they need to contact, or the process the they need to follow, or how to complete a form – it can save time and avoid errors.
New “plain English” Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders will be introduced in New South Wales to make the orders less confusing.
The NSW Government said the redesigned orders would eliminate excuses for violating the orders, which protect victims of domestic violence by imposing restrictions on the behaviour of perpetrators.
Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton said the orders would use simple language that a 13-year-old could understand, and spell out examples of the consequences of breaches.