7 Plain English Writing Tips

7 Plain English Writing Tips

Here are my favorite top seven writing tips to write in plain English for today's general readers.

Writing Tip # 1: Understand Your Readers

Determine who your readers are and remember their reading level and educational background as you write. Consider what they should know. Write concisely and directly to your readers. If you need to elaborate on a point without breaking the coherency of your topic, then let your readers know where they can find additional information at the end of your article.

Writing Tip # 2: Specify

The title of your article and the first paragraph can help you specify what your article is about, who you wrote it for, and why you wrote it.

Writing Tip # 3: Use Common Words

Write in plain, simple language using common words. Consider how you might reveal the same information in a discussion. Typically, you will notice that you write more conversationally, as if talking to a friend. Write that way.

Writing Tip # 4 Junk the Jargon

Minimize lingo, slang and vague abbreviations for a public audience. Clarify technical words or phrases. If you must abbreviate, write out the full abbreviation with the abbreviation in brackets the first time you use it. Writing for a technical audience is different in that you can use familiar technical terms and "workshop words." (Read my article, "How to Identify and Avoid Slang in Your English Writing."

Writing Tip # 5: Add Variety

Vary your sentence length and keep paragraphs short. Plain English writers use a blend of long and concise sentences for eye appeal and to add interest. Shoot for a sentence length of 15 to 25 words. Always re-read what you write because you can usually edit out unnecessary words.

Writing Tip # 6: Use Active Voice

Write, "We will write this report," and not, "The report will be written by us." The active
voice speaks directly and clearly to readers. [ Learn how to use active voice ]

Writing Tip # 7: Be Engaging

Unless following a specific publication style, write in first person and use personal pronouns. Write, "I will write this report and show you how to do the same," instead of, "The Writing Group of New York will write the report and show students how to do the same." Writing in first person makes you sound more human and invites the reader to join your discussion.

Learn more about writing in plain English by reading my Plain English Writing Rules at Hubpages. I have also rounded up the best free eBooks on plain English writing.

I welcome your comments, suggestions, and extra writing tips. Use the comment form below.

Brian Scott