Use Plain Language for More Effective Marketing

Over the past decade, there’s been a push toward plain language—using simple, clear wording and structure—in government and technical communications. Although marketers use creative copy to grab people’s attention, the most effective marketing also uses plain language. After all, if your audience can’t understand the message, they won’t be moved to buy. Read on for tips on using plain language to improve your next marketing piece.

Why use plain language?

Many marketers focus only on the creative side of copywriting since an attention-grabbing headline and compelling content are vital to drawing in the audience. However, it’s important to also use plain language, especially when providing essential information like product features or terms and conditions. This is true for a couple of reasons:

•  By using plain language, you’ll reach a larger audience.

    ο  The average American adult reads at an 8th-grade level. With plain language, you’ll reach readers of all education levels and those whose first language isn’t English.

    ο  People’s time and attention are spread thin. Plain language makes reading quicker and easier, so your audience is more likely to pay attention to your marketing message instead of skipping over it.

•  Organizations with clear writing styles seem more transparent and credible. If your audience doesn’t trust you, they’re not going to buy from you. Confusing language can seem shady to customers, while plain language shows that you're open and honest.

Plain Language Writing Tips

There are entire guides to writing with plain language, but here are the three most important tips to follow:

•  Use words the audience knows. Write for a general audience using simple, common words. Avoid jargon. If you need to use industry terms, explain them. 

•  Write short, simple sentences. The ideal sentence length is 20 words or fewer. Cover only one idea per sentence.

•  Present the most important information first in each paragraph and section. Provide less important information later, or direct readers to visit your website or call for more details.

Microsoft Word has tools that check reading level and word count—use them to see if your writing meets plain language guidelines.

Plain Language Design Tips

Plain language encompasses not just wording, but also the layout of a document. Most people don’t actually read; they skim. The two simplest ways to make a piece easier to skim are:

•  Using headings and subheads to break up blocks of text.

•  Listing items as bullets instead of in a sentence. 

The bottom line: No one ever complained about information being too easy to comprehend. Plain language makes it easier for your audience to understand and act on your message. The copy and design pros at can boost the effectiveness of your next marketing piece. Reach out to an account manager and find out how! 



Posted by Tanya Langdon - March 04, 2024