Nov 20

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Developing a plain English culture

If you are an organisation that produces a lot of documents, developing a culture of plain English writing will make an enormous difference to your customers or clients AND to your staff.  Of course you want your big documents to be readable and understandable – but it’s also the day-to-day emails, letters and account statements which can make a difference to a client relationship.  If your whole organisation takes a plain English approach, you can achieve this.

What do you need to do to create a culture of plain English communication?

  • Think about how you want your organisation to sound when it writes – it should match the way you sound when you speak.  How do you want your organisation and your brand to come across?
  • Train your staff in plain English writing – don’t forget to include this as part of the induction for new starters, too.
  • Do a plain English audit of all your internal documents, such as policies, procedures and manuals.  You want to model the sort of writing you want everyone to be producing.
  • Develop plain English precedents or standard forms for any documents you use frequently.  These can be modified for any particular circumstance, but having them ready in plain English saves a lot of time.
  • Develop a corporate style guide – it doesn’t have to be long, but it should cover the basic look and feel that you want your documents to have.
  • Identify someone sufficiently senior to take responsibility for the quality of written documents, including language and design.
  • Make time for proofreading.
  • Introduce some sort of recognition for good writing – a regular award, for instance.

We can help with any of these steps.  We can also give you specific advice on developing a plain English culture in your particular organisation, and help you to implement it.

Permanent link to this article: http://wordsmadeclear.com/2011/11/20/developing-a-plain-english-culture/

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