Design your words

Why using plain English is important

It’s important to get to the point in a straightforward, understandable way. Using plain english to say things clearly should be the coal of every communication.

Why, you might ask, is a designer writing about writing? Well, it’s one of the key things that makes communications successful. Or not. So I thought I would jot down some thoughts I’ve had working with words over the years.

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1. Have one clear message

Every piece of communication you produce should have one main point. Delete anything that doesn’t make that point clearly.

1. Use simple words

Dont use long words when a short one will do. Only use long and complicated words when a simple word won’t work.

Instead of assistance say help. Use simple words, don’t utilize them. In the event of can be shortened to if.

3. Keep it short

Put your reader first, they are rearely as interested in your subject as you are. Put the work in to make your writing efficient and meaningful.

4. Ditch the jargon

Jargon, buzzwords, mumbo jumbo. You don’t need it and it tends to date quickly.

Remember you won’t upset an expert by explaining clearly but you can easily alienate people who don’t know the lingo.

5. Discard the fluff words

Using filler words or superlatives can don’t add meaning and dilute your sentences. Avoid verylittle or amazing in let your reader decide.

6. Be specific

Say it how it is, and describe the scene. Take your audience with you.

Consider these sentences:

It’s a great event with lots of fun things to see and do.

or

At the event you can try virtual reality, talk to industry experts and listen to talks.

7. Avoid acronyms.

I like to explain this using the NYA technique. Clear?

8. Use a good copywriter

A copywriter extract the message from your head/company/product manager and make it resonate with your audience. I work with some great writers and am happy to make a recommendation.

9. Write naturally

Try to write as you would talk to someone. Read it out loud and if it sounds stuffy and odd, simplify it until you’re comfortable saying it.

 

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo Da Vinci

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