Tips - Plain Language

This 75- to 90-minute presentation (including exercises) was given at the inaugural Perth Business Writers' Conference, held 21 October 2016 in Perth, Western Australia. Other presentations of this session or a variation of it include: Department of Education (Perth, Western Australia; February 2016), Environmental Health Australia (Western Australia) Incorporated (Perth, Western Australia; May 2016), and EditorsWA Winter Seminar (Perth, Western Australia, August 2016).

Plain language writing: Tips for delivering complex messages to a general audience from Rhonda Bracey

Session summary

Take a look at your latest insurance policy—you should easily be able to find and understand what you can and can’t claim. No longer are these documents full of gobbledygook, tiny print, and lists of exclusions that you need a legal degree to understand.

And it’s not just insurance companies. Pharmaceutical companies (check the leaflet inside a recent prescription medicine), some government departments, utility companies, and others (even lawyers) are changing the language they use when communicating with their customers to ‘plain language’.

In this session, I’ll cover the main guidelines for writing in plain language, the benefits to your organisation and your customers, and share lots of examples and tips for making your messages clear. You’ll do several practical exercises so that you can put what you learn into practice, ready to use back in your workplace. (NOTE: The exercises are NOT available.)

And I’ll give you a handout of commonly used words and their plain language alternatives. PDF of the Plain Language Alternatives handout (200 KB)

PDF of the presentation (464 KB)


  • Great session - well presented. Useful information
  • Great delivery of interesting and relevant content.
  • Some great, practical information - just a shame she had to rush at the end.
  • Excellent - should have taken more time.
  • Brilliant - great facilitator and reconfirmed info I'd almost forgotten.
  • Amazing - fast paced, thorough, engaging. Really useful and beautifully formatted visuals.
  • Thanks for the to-the-point content. Very applicable. You covered in one hour what other seminars cover in 1 whole day.
  • Very helpful.
  • Extremely useful and relevant
  • Great session and insightful.
  • Loved everything - so useful. Great tips.
  • Useful set of guidelines and tips that I will refer to in future.
  • Loved this!
  • Great - relevant