What is Clear Language?

Text that is simply worded and clearly laid out is easier for everyone to read. While this is of huge benefit to people who are struggling with reading, it is also much appreciated by those with strong reading skills.

How many times have you wished that a contract or legal document were worded more plainly?

Or perhaps you have to read many reports for your work. Wouldn’t it be better if the writers used clearer language so that you could skim through to get the gist before you decided which one to read first?


What is simple wording?

  • ordinary, everyday words

use instead of utilize

certain instead of incontrovertible

  • a minimum of technical or jargon words

keyboard instead of manual data input device

  • short sentences

They keep the reader on track. Ideally, there should be one idea per sentence.

  • active voice instead of passive, whenever possible

We will call you instead of You will be called

Please wash your own cup instead of Cups should be washed by the people who have used them

  • a polite tone which encourages the reader to read on

Hello new tutor instead of To whom it may concern

What is clear layout?

  • relevant illustrations

Remember how useful illustrations are in helping you to recognize the context and predict difficult words.

  • easy-to-read typeface

like Times New Roman or Arial instead of Algerian or Matura

  • 14 point, or larger, for beginning readers

Use graphic organizers such as bullets, headings and subheadings. They allow the reader to get the overall picture and so predict more easily.

  • a minimum of upper case

Words in uppercase have no distinctive shape. Words in lowercase do, and readers use this shape as one of the cues in recognizing words.

  • lots of white space

This encourages the reader to feel that the reading task is bearable. Lines that are double spaced, or one-and-a-half spaced are easier on the eye.


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