Keep it simple

I’m a big fan of plain English on websites for a wide variety of reasons, most of which boil down to reaching the widest audience possible. While there are of course instances where more flowery language is appropriate, communicating important information is not usually one of them.

So if there’s an easier way to say something, use it. And this is what went through my mind as I was browsing the Climate Action website today, when I saw its strapline:

Assisting business towards carbon neutrality

As the platform is produced in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), I think it’s fair to assume the target audience is at least Europe-wide. The majority of those people will speak English as a second language.

Even though English is my native language, I still need a split second to unravel the meaning, which isn’t ideal. In addition, the wording has a distinct whiff of ‘corporate speak’. I think the following is clearer while …

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Writing for your audience: overseas students

One of my Spanish ‘intercambio’ friends has recently booked a place on a summer course in London to improve her English (which she speaks to a good level already).

She’s also booked a room with Nido, accommodation for overseas students. She received the following email from Nido, but asked me for help because she couldn’t understand all of the details.

Original letter

We are happy to inform you that your application has been successful and we have provisionally booked a room for you and your application is now pending. [Is the application successful or is it pending? This is confusing.]

In order to confirm your reservation, you will be required to make payments as outlined in your payment plan.

The refundable damage deposit and 2 weeks rent in advance is due first, shortly after receiving this acceptance email.

Please note that your damage deposit will be refunded on the same method it was paid.

A copy of your payment plan is attached.

There are three method of payments accepted:

Credit Card: Attached is a copy of the credit card authorisation …

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