Plain Language Made Easy

Plain Language Made Easy

Writers Write promotes and teaches plain language writing skills. This post is about plain language made easy for you.

There is an act called the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) No 68 of 2008. Protecting the consumer is a priority in South Africa. High levels of illiteracy and social inequality have brought Plain Language into focus.

Plain Language Made Easy

What is Plain Language in the CPA? 

Plain Language is writing that allows everyone the right to fair trade. The law protects a consumer’s economic and physical well-being. It gives recourse to consumers if agreements are broken or not clearly explained. The consumer has the right to understand what you say and to trust what you write. The penalty for not being clear could be a fine or a jail sentence.

How is this relevant to business writing?

Consumers must be able to understand written communications. Your loyalty program may no longer comply with the law. Every written thing, including product labels, emails and internal communications, must be clearly written and clearly understood.

How do you comply with the CPA?

Remove ambiguity. Reword legal small print. Ask, ‘Would a reasonable person understand what has been written?’

Content must:

  1. Be consistent and comprehensive.
  2. Have an easy to understand format and style.
  3. Contain simple vocabulary, clear headings and a phrase-free sentence structure.

A company should:

  1. Edit existing communications.
  2. Train staff to write in Plain Language.
  3. Implement a Plain Language programme.
If you enjoyed this article, read these posts:
  1. Plain language is an opportunity
  2. 93 Extremely Bad Business Writing Habits to Break
  3. Good writers mean business
  4. Begin at the end – the one essential email trick every business writer should know
  5. The Top Seven Tips for Writing Emails
  6. The 12 Worst Mistakes People Make In Email Subject Lines

If you want to improve your business writing skills, join us for The Plain Language Programme.

by Amanda Patterson

© Amanda Patterson

Posted on: 22nd October 2011