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
✖️ For the purpose of
✖️ Prior to
✖️ Subsequent to
✖️ In accordance with