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Say it in plain English

Stop thinking outside the box – just think instead. Pic. Forbes

Let’s think outside the box for a moment and ask a rather obvious question – what has the box got to do with thinking?
What does the expression – one of the most-hated phrases on a Forbes list of jargon – really mean anyway? If it means to be innovative or creative, why don’t we just say that instead?
Better still, what’s wrong with plain ole reliable ‘think’?
We’re not alone in hating jargon. Some 5,000 Irish people have just signed the National Adult Literacy Agency’s plain English petition.

Say it in plain English
The petition asks that all public information, such as letters, forms and documents, produced by the Government and its jargon-loving agencies be written in plain English.

This means:

Using everyday words or explaining specialised words
Keeping sentences to about 15 to 20 words
Using a readable font type and size (such as Arial point size 12).

Reasons to use plain English
The literacy agency said there were lots of reasons to use plain English.

  • Plain English is fair.
  • Plain English gives us information in a language we can understand and helps us to make informed choices.
  • Clearer information is shown to improve public-sector performance, reduce mistakes and lead to fewer complaints and repeated questions.

Here at Clear Ink, we can add to that list. Writing in clear English is good for business. Here’s what we’ve found it can do:

  • Increase the response rate to email
  • Increase the click-through rate on your website, newsletters, social media
  • Improve relationships with customers
  • Increase your bottom line


Duck the ducks in a row

So the next time you’re tempted to get your ducks in a row, or level the playing field or pick off the low-hanging fruit, think again (but without the box).
Call a spade and spade and keep it clear and plain.
The jargon-busters
If you’re having trouble doing that, we can help. We are a global brand communications agency based in Dublin and we hate jargon. To find out how to develop a clear, jargon-free message, contact Margaret at margaret@clearink.ie