Plain Language

Writing in plain language is another best practice you should be applying to your copy. It helps your audience understand your content more quickly, and plain language is also easier for someone with a cognitive disability to understand. 

Tips for Writing in Plain Language

Write for your audience

This should already be a basic instinct for any good digital marketer. Knowing your audience and the people who primarily engage with your social media content, means knowing how to talk to them and using language they understand.

For instance, let’s say you work for a zoo. We can assume that your online audience is going to range in age, background, and education, so you’d want the language you use in your content to be as inclusive and clear as possible.

You wouldn’t say, “You’re invited to visit our exhibit featuring a juvenile Equus quagga,” when writing something like, “Come meet the newest addition to the zoo family, a baby zebra,” would be much easier for most people to understand.

Organize Your Information

This item pertains more to webpages and communications that contain more text than the average social media post, but it’s still a good practice to implement, especially if you typically write longer posts or oversee email marketing for your organization.

Make your content easy to follow by breaking up longer sentences and paragraphs or using bulleted lists when possible. Even something as simple as using two hard returns (hitting the Return/Enter key) in a tweet can make your content easier to read and more likely that users engage with it.

Be Clear and Concise

Thankfully, most people who work in social media already understand the power of concise content and have mastered the art of packing the most important info into very short posts. When in doubt, just get to the point. Take the below before and after example of plain language. The before example is unnecessarily wordy.

  • The scholarship application must be completed by the applicant and received by the financial aid office by September 1st.

We can assume that this message is being sent directly to students from a college financial aid office. The after example below shows how the message can easily be simplified.

  • We must receive your scholarship application by September 1st.

Choose Your Words Carefully

If you’re using complicated jargon or unfamiliar phrases, you could be negatively impacting your content and making your followers feel alienated by it. This goes back to our first plain language tip of writing for your audience. Keep your content simple and straightforward. 

Keep it Conversational

Try to use an active voice when you’re creating content and be more informal with your writing. Write content the way you would speak. The below example shows the difference between a passive and active voice. The original content used a passive voice.

  • Alan Rickman’s acting career was started in the late 1970s when he was 32 and had left his job as a graphic designer.

With a few adjustments, the statement now uses an active voice.

  • Alan Rickman left his career as a graphic designer in the late 1970s to pursue acting at age 32.

Additional Resources and Reading

Want to learn a little more about the impact of language? Check out the links below!