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Why use plain language?

We’re all busy people. We don’t want to waste a lot of time “translating” difficult, wordy documents. Plain language writing saves time. If we save time, we save money. Plain language is good customer service and makes life easier for the public.

Plain language means readers understand your documents more quickly. Readers call less often for explanations. They make fewer errors filling out forms. They comply more accurately and quickly with requirements. If your customers don’t understand your documents, you may have to:

  • Answer phone calls
  • Write explanatory letters
  • Write an explanatory document
  • Litigate

Though no one knows the total cost of poor communication, the information we do have suggests it’s high. Writing in plain language isn’t easy, but it pays off in positive results.


The American public deserves plain language communication from its government. The benefits of plain language are both tangible and intangible:

  • Plain language gets your message across in the shortest time possible.
  • More people are able to understand your message.
  • There is less chance that your document will be misunderstood, so you spend less time explaining it to people. And if your document gives instructions, your readers are more likely to understand them and follow them correctly.

Many studies have shown that plain language affects your bottom line—you can save time, personnel resources, and money. And you will give better service to your readers.

For more details, see Arguments in Favor of Plain Language, or check out these award-winning examples of plain language in action.