What is Plain English?

Plain English is a way of writing any document by which a reader can understand its subject or information in first reading and in the same sense that the writer meant it to understand.
Plain English is must for clear, fair and ethical communication.
Let us see how a legal language works:

No person shall drive a motor vehicle in any public place unless he holds an effective driving licence issued to him authorising him to drive the vehicle; and no person shall so drive a transport vehicle [other than [a motor cab or motor cycle] hired for his own use or rented under any scheme made under sub - section (2) of section 75] unless his driving licence specifically entitles him so to do. (72 words)

Now let us see how Plain English makes it easier for us:

You can drive a motor vehicle in a public place, if you hold an authorized driving licence.
Special approval in the licence is must for driving a transport vehicle on rental basis, other than a motor cab or motor cycle.
See Sub-Section -2 of Section 75) (47 words)

Now let us see 2nd example:
Legal language:

(1) No person under the age of eighteen years shall drive a motor vehicle in any public place:
Provided that [a motor cycle with engine capacity not exceeding 50 cc] may be driven in a public place by a person after attaining the age of sixteen year. (46 words)

Plain English:

  1. Age limit for driving a motor vehicle in public place:

  Engine Capacity

  Age Limit

  Less than 50 cc

  16 years or more.

  More than 50 cc

  18 Years or more.

 (30 words)

We believe the Plain version is definitely easy to understand.
A Plain English document uses words economically and at a level the audience can understand. Its sentence structure is tight. Its manner is welcoming and direct. A Plain English document is easy to read and looks like it’s meant to be read.

warren_buffett.top.jpgWarren Buffett, an American investor and philanthropist said, write with a specific person in mind. When writing Berkshire Hathaway’s annual report, I pretend that I’m talking to my sisters. I have no trouble picturing them: Though highly intelligent, they are not experts in accounting or finance. They will understand plain English, but jargon may puzzle them. My goal is simply to give them the information I would wish them to supply me if our positions were reversed. To succeed, I don’t need to be Shakespeare; I must, though, have a sincere desire to inform.

Writing Plain English document does not mean removal of complex information. Plain English document assures the systematic and clear presentation of complex information so that we will be able to understand the document in the best possible way easily.