10 TIPS FOR PRODUCING PLAIN ENGLISH

Here are some useful tips on how to write English that gets your message across more often, more effectively, more easily and in a friendlier way:

1 Use everyday language. Try and write as you would talk to your reader.

✖️ With reference to your abovementioned letter, please find enclosed some information as requested. In addition to this I can inform you that: …

✔️ I am enclosing the information you requested. Also, …

✖️ Visitors are advised that we take no responsibility for your vehicle whilst visiting and to take care on the uneven surface.

✔️ We cannot be held liable for any damage caused to your vehicle on our premises. Please drive carefully, as the road surface is uneven.

2 KISS: Keep It Short and Simple.

✖️ We refer to your letter of 2 October, 2017, regarding the draft Finance Agreement between MUS S.A. (the Central Company) and its subsidiaries (hereafter: the Agreement). With respect to your letter, we inform you as follows.

✔️ We refer to your letter of 2 October.

3 Use actives instead of passives. Name the agent. Use personal words like ‘I’, ‘we’ and ‘you’.

✖️ By means of the questionnaires filled out, it was determined which of the participants had experienced influenza or an influenza-like disease.

✔️ We used the answers to the questionnaires to identify which of the participants had suffered from influenza or a similar disease.

4 Use verbs instead of nouns.

✖️ The recruitment of temporary or permanent employees takes place within the determined budget.

✔️ Temporary or permanent staff are recruited within the limits of the agreed budget.

5 Use positive language.

✖️ It’s not as easy to read something that is not written in a positive way.

✔️ It’s easier to read something that’s written in a positive way.

6 Keep your sentences short. A useful guide is 15-25 words, and no more than one sub-clause.

✖️ The activities of INTRATAX were praised by Mrs C. Scrivener, European Commissioner for Customs and Tax Affairs, during a recent meeting of the European Parliament, because in this way, new initiatives for customs forwarding agents had been created and moreover, the setting up of an internal market was stimulated.

✔️ The Customs and Tax European Commissioner, Mrs C. Scrivener, praised INTRATAX during a recent meeting of the European Parliament. She said that it had helped to launch new initiatives for customs forwarding agents and had encouraged the formation of a single market.

7 Use bulleted lists to break down complex sentences. For example:

✔️ Before signing the contract, the potential purchaser should have:

  • personally inspected the property more than once;
  • measured the boundaries of the property as fenced;
  • checked that the boundaries as fenced conform to the boundaries given on the title;
  • discussed finance with the bank manager.

8 Use headings and sub-headings.

9 Ask a question if you’ve got one.

✖️ The facts as given raise questions about whether unjust enrichment might apply, what defences might be open to the purchaser and the remedies which might be available to you.

✔️ The facts raise the following questions:

1. Does unjust enrichment apply here?

2. What defences might be available to the purchaser?

3. What remedies are available to you?

10 Use handy prepositions instead of long-winded phrases.

✖️ With respect to

✔️ About

✖️ For the purpose of

✔️ To

✖️ Prior to

✔️ Before

✖️ Subsequent to

✔️ After

✖️ In accordance with

✔️ Under