Why writing in Plain English adds value!
mployers commission Occupational Health to supply an opinion in the form of a written re-
port. They ask us to assess and advise them on how an individual’s health affects their ability to perform their role and to suggest adjustments. But how often have you stopped to ask yourself, how effective am I being at getting this information across? We may give excel-
lent evidence-based advice, but what use is that to the customer, if they cannot easily understand the report? I recently read a blog that made me stop and reflect on this. Morris (2014) suggests “In work, we write so we can do something. If you want your writing to achieve its goal, then do all you can to make life easy for your reader. Keep it short, avoid unnecessary technical language, and use clear, simple words. It 14
By Stephanie Foster, Clinical training lead, PAM Group
will increase your chances of being read and understood rather than skimmed or binned.” The Plain English Campaign highlights the importance of avoiding “gobbledegook” to make sure information is accessible. Their website offers advice on writing in Plain English, as well as providing an A-Z suggesting simpler alternatives to complex words. To help you adapt your writing style you may want to try software such as Editor (available with an office 365 subscription) or Grammarly. Both programmes help ensure correct spelling and grammar. Getting this right helps emphasise your professionalism and inspire your customer’s confidence in your advice. If you get a letter or report that has errors in it, how does this make you feel? Does