Is it really clear?

Examples of plain English, explaining the active voice, how to write hyperlink text and one of the books that started it all.

Welcome to another edition of Plain English Weekly and a lovely big wave (πŸ‘‹) to you. Quick reminder: I'm Iain Broome, a freelance content designer.

Sorry about skipping last week. I did that thing where you say you are going to take some annual leave and then also say, "Hey, don't worry I will somehow find time to not be on annual leave at all!"

We're back now though. Enjoy the links.


I run exciting plain English workshops with teams from all sorts of organisations. Email if you'd like to know more about how they work.

How to Write in Plain English (With Examples)

Another concise guide to writing in plain English, this time from Proofed. This one includes examples, which always helps when trying to understand some of the core principles of writing clearly.

Why plain language and Plain English are different

So, this is a good piece. First, it includes some backstory on the Plain English Campaign and an exciting founder rift I didn't know about. But more importantly, it highlights the problem with claiming to write in clear language if you don't test your content with real users. Is it really clear? How do you know?

This is why whenever I run workshops (did I mention I run workshops?), I always introduce plain English alongside the principles of content design. That includes creating content based on user research and evidence. To write clearly, you need to understand who you are writing for and what they want to achieve.

Quick and useful explanation of the active voice

Here is a smashing and very short post on LinkedIn by Hannah Collins, content design lead at Today. Some people find it tricky to spot the difference between the active and passive voice, so I am very much into this kind of concise overview.

How to write hyperlink text for better web accessibility

As you might have noticed if you've been subscribed to Plain English Weekly from the start, the team at Scope share lots of brilliant resources. This piece on link text is excellent and if you or anyone on your team is susceptible to writing links that say 'click here' or something similar, please pass it on!

A long time ago, I also write a blog post about writing good hyperlinks. True story.

Book: Complete Plain Words by Ernest Gowers

Plain Words is one of the earliest and most influential books on the subject of clear language. First published in 1948, some of it is now dated and – as you might guess – there's no mention of the good ol' internet. But it's still a great read and worthy of a place on your bookshelves.

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