Confidence a document is fit for purpose.
A PlainLanguagePro certification trademark gives document owners (publishers) confidence: they can be sure their documents have been prepared with care, dedicated to meeting the needs of users (readers). Document owners will know their document will communicate effectively and deliver a business benefit.
Potential legal protection
PlainLanguagePro certification trademarks may also provide document owners with a potential defence against a charge of ‘reckless writing’ and related legal action. (The thrust of legal argument is shifting from ‘did you read the document?’ to ‘was the document readable?’)
A tale of two documents
Plain language – a focus on users (readers)
The PlainLanguagePro standards recognise that ‘plain language is not just about vocabulary. It involves all the techniques for clear communication — planning the document, designing it, organising it, writing clear sentences, using plain words, and testing the document whenever possible on typical readers.’
Whether a document is plain or not depends on the target audience and the complexity of the content. A document is in plain language if the target audience can:
- find what they need
- understand what they find
- use what they find to meet their needs.
A PlainLanguagePro mark on a document guarantees that the document has been written, edited or revised by a plain language professional exercising appropriate skill. The level of the mark (BRONZE, SILVER, GOLD) shows the type of process used to create the document.
Only an authorised PlainLanguagePro certifier may place a PlainLanguagePro mark on a document.
The PlainLanguagePro standards extend the basic concepts beyond other Plain English certification regimes. The PlainLanguagePro standards also consider user focused development processes and testing the effectiveness of the final document.
|Content is (usually) ordered in a ‘point first’ or ‘pyramid’ structure.||YES||YES||YES|
|Uses familiar, short words in preference to complex words.||YES||YES||YES|
|Not wordy, using only the number of words required to express an idea.||YES||YES||YES|
|Includes more active voice expressions than passive.||YES||YES||YES|
|Uses verbs rather than nouns made from verbs.||YES||YES||YES|
|Most sentences convey a single idea.||YES||YES||YES|
|Uses a conversational style.||YES||YES||YES|
|A readability score reflecting the reading ability of the target audience.||YES||YES||YES|
|Includes user research in the document planning and preparation stage||YES||YES|
|Incorporates user research in the document structure, content and style.||YES||YES|
|Includes user testing to confirm the document addresses user needs and preferences||YES|
|Testing shows the document works to achieve the intent of the document owner.||YES|