What is plain English?Plain English is writing that conveys its meaning clearly and concisely to its intended audience with the necessary impact and the appropriate tone of voice.

Plain English is not simplistic or childish, as in `the cat sat on the mat'.

It is not so brief that it only gives part of the message and it is not patronising.

It is a message written with the reader firmly in mind. This means knowing what your reader will understand and using everyday language and familiar words to put across your message.

Compare the following sentences and see how much easier the plain English translation is to understand:

  1. Your indication at your earliest convenience of the quantity required would be of greatest assistance to our department
  2. Please let me know as soon as possible how many you need.
  3. Every endeavour must be forthcoming on our part to affect the improvement of our written communications.
  4. We must improve our writing skills.

Plain English involves getting your message right and making it understandable.