INTERNATIONAL PLAIN LANGUAGE DAY
On October 13, International Plain Language Day promotes the use of clear and simple information. It’s also a day to help people realize the importance of plain language.
Have you ever read a report, blog post, or another form of written communication? Did you have trouble understanding what you were reading? If so, it may be because it was not written with clear and simple language. All businesses, organizations, and governments should embrace the idea of using plain language. Why? Just consider the average reading level of the general public. In the United States, the average person reads at a 7th to 8th-grade level. On a global scale, only 2 percent of the population reads at a high literacy level.
Countries with the highest literacy levels include Japan, Finland, Netherlands, Australia, and Sweden. The United States ranks 17th. This ranking puts the United States below average for literacy. As you can see, plain language is necessary to communicate with the majority of the world’s population effectively.
- Here are some benefits to using plain language:
- Reduces mistakes
- Gets message across in shortest time possible
- Decreases stress and anxiety for readers
- More people understand the message
- Reduces chance of being misunderstood
Those who use plain language when writing should always write for their reader instead of themselves. Additionally, sticking to the topic, using pronouns, writing in an active voice, shortening sentences, and using everyday words can make the text easier to understand.
HOW TO OBSERVE #PlainLanguageDay
Businesses, organizations, and anyone that needs to communicate with the public is encouraged to celebrate this day. Events worldwide include writing competitions, plain language training sessions, luncheons, and exhibitions of plain language work.
- Take a writing course.
- Write a paragraph or essay and ask others how well they understand it.
- Learn more about the importance of using plain language.
- Commit to reading and writing daily.
Share this day with a simple message on social media with #PlainLanguageDay or #IPLD
INTERNATIONAL PLAIN LANGUAGE DAY HISTORY
Two plain language professionals are credited for starting International Plain Language Day. Cheryl Stephens and Kate Harrison Whiteside first began the international plain language network in the early 1990s. To increase demand for plain language for the public, they held the first International Plain Language Day on October 13, 2011, the anniversary of the U.S. Plain Writing Act signed in 2010.