Plain Language Guide

These guidelines help you write clear, easy to understand content for every audience. 

Who Should Use This Guide?

Anyone who writes for the B.C. government, no matter what they write, from engineering reports to emails, news releases to websites. 

Why Plain Language?

Plain language helps people find what they need and understand what they find. It saves time and money, and makes documents and websites easier to find, read, understand, and act on.

Plain Language Guidelines

Follow the guidelines below to write plain language content for all your audiences.

Know Your Audience

Learn who your audience is and what they need, and write to them.

Be Clear & Concise

  • Cut unnecessary words
  • Use short, everyday words
  • Avoid jargon
  • Use the active voice
  • Write in short sentences
  • Avoid repeating the page topic too often

Use the Present Tense

Present tense sentences are short and engaging.

  • Find a family doctor, medical clinic or hospital

Use Action Verbs

Action verbs give clear direction.

  • Find a hospital near you
  • Plan your route

Explain Difficult Words

If you need to use complex words or terms, explain them or provide examples.

  • Psychosocial support (an approach to victims of disaster, catastrophe or violence that fosters strength) is crucial

Use Contractions

Contractions give web writing a personal tone.

  • We'll call back within one hour
  • We've opened two new locations

Use Neutral Pronouns

Use "you," “they,” “them” or “their” unless you're addressing a specific gender.

  • You can order copies
  • They can register online
  • Applicants can see their results

Keep Paragraphs to One Topic

Simple paragraphs help readers understand the topic.

Be Consistent

Use the same word to describe the same thing on related pages.

Be Specific

Avoid being vague.

  • This will teach you → This course will teach you

Organize

Resources