Plain language

Plain language editing is a specialized type of editing. The goal is to make the text easy to understand for the general public. This type of editing can include:

  • simplifying language to A2/B1 level through short sentences and common words
  • defining uncommon terms or concepts that are crucial to the text
  • organizing information into lists, tables, charts, flowcharts, etc.
  • addressing the reader directly
  • using active voice and strong verbs
  • reducing repetition and redundancy
  • re-writing vague language into concise terms
  • organizing content in a way that makes sense to the reader.

It is best to include plain language editing at the developmental stage, when we can discuss important factors like the target audience, purpose of the text, and format. Some aspects can also be included at the copy-editing stage, such as breaking up long sentences or substituting technical words for more common words. But it cannot be done in the proofreading stage.

A communication is in plain language if its wording, structure, and design are so clear that the intended readers can easily find what they need, understand what they find, and use that information.

– International Plain Language Federation

Your text might need a focus on plain language if:

  • your readers ask lots of questions
  • you need to reach a broad group of people who have limited or no background information
  • your text is too long or too complicated
  • your writing sounds impersonal and your readers aren’t engaged
  • you want to streamline your communication approach.

Ready to get started?

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