What is plain English

Plain English, to put it simply, is a way of expressing your ideas clearly in writing and speaking. As for plain English writing, I think of it as having three parts:

• Style. By style, I mean how to write clear, readable sentences. My advice is simple: write more the way you talk. This may sound simple, but it's a powerful metaphor that can revolutionize your writing.

• Organization. I suggest starting with your main point almost all the time. That doesn't mean it has to be your first sentence (though it can be)—-just that it should come early and be extremely easy to find.

• Layout. This is the appearance of the page and your words on it. Headings, bullets, and other techniques of white space help your reader see—visually—the underlying structure of your writing. The value is immense. I think of layout as fun to do, and easy, too, with today's computers.

Plain English is not limited to expressing only simple ideas: it works for all kinds of writing—from an internal memo to a complicated technical report. It can handle any level of complexity.

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