Lessons Learned

  • Success depends on senior people to champion plain language.
  • Help staff see the benefits of plain language. It is estimated the department saved more than $3 million a year2 by revising its forms. The payback came in not having people call back with questions or for help. This saved 10 minutes per form in staff time.
  • Change the organizational culture by defining plain language as a courtesy, as much as a skill.
  • Know the audience to communicate effectively. If the audience is diverse or unknown, use the common bottom denominator as a guide.
  • Use the corporate training fund, rather than special project funding. Even with downsizing, the training fund will remain because with fewer employees it becomes even more important that they be skilled.

2 Christine Mowat. Clarity. 1997. as cited on Clear Language and Design website http://www.eastendliteracy.on.ca/clearlanguageanddesign/facts/facts5.htm