Clear Documents Make You Clearly Better to do Business
who knows AMC's Director Mark Carlton will be aware that
he believes in plain speaking. In business that is not
a bad thing.
recently visited the website of The Word Centre. He was
impressed by the wealth of information available to assist
businesses to improve the clarity of emails, letters,
reports, leaflets etc. and realised that, in turn, this
can save time and money.
says: "I am always looking at ways in which I can
improve AMC's communication with its present or potential
clients and If that improves our efficiency all the better."
visiting the site Mark subscribed to the email newsletter
and, after finding it both informative and amusing, he
has decided to share it. It is reproduced below in its
enirety. "I just want to spread the word", added
English Bulletin -- Volume 8, Issue 4, April 2007
4. Did You Know?
5. Self Development
6. Quotes of the Month
servants go back to school!
of us have heard about the concerns the UK government
has over the standards of reading and writing among schoolchildren.
there are concerns about the civil servants at the Department
Education and Skills (DfES). This is, of course, the department
that implements government policies on education and skills
training. Apparently, staff at the DfES are not too hot
when it comes to punctuation and using plain English,
and their letters and emails reflect this. Hence the need
for action to put things right.
in the DfES has been sent a series of guides to remind
to use apostrophes and about commonly confused words such
as `two´, `to´ and
`too´. Every week they receive a different lesson
as part of an in-house campaign called `Getting the Basics
well as the weekly lessons, staff also receive an essential
list includes books like Lynne Truss's bestseller, `Eats,
Shoots & Leaves´, which is all about punctuation.
organisations close their eyes to shortcomings in their
staff´s writing. It takes courage to accept that
standards are low and then do something about it. DfES
has had to put up with some predictably sarcastic newspaper
coverage as a result of their campaign.
wish them well with it.
Tell them in plain English
month Edmund Hall, a UK Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)
prosecutor, called for Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs)
to be written in plain English.
said the way the orders are being worded is causing confusion
and they should be easier for offenders to understand.
ASBO is a court order made to prevent an individual from
behaving in a way that is felt to be anti-social. The
aim of an ASBO is to protect the public from behaviour
which can make their lives a misery.
at a conference on the government´s `respect´programme,
Mr Hall said: `It's not big and it's not clever to use
complicated legal language. Often we're dealing with 14-,
15-, 16-year-old kids who haven't had a great education,
never mind adults who might be in the same boat. It's
not actually that difficult to express your concepts clearly
and in plain English.´
make his point Mr Hall gave the example of a 14-year-old
boy´s ASBO which said he was `prohibited from loitering
in the curtilage´ of a school. The boy did not understand
an ASBO is a civil order, rather than a criminal penalty,
breaking the order is a serious matter. One of the penalties
for breaking an ASBO is to be sent to prison for up to
of this, it is vital that the wording of an ASBO is clear
and unambiguous. This way the people who receive them
have a clear understanding of what it is they mustn´t
couldn´t agree more with what Mr Hall is saying.
It is possible to write the most complex information,
including legal documents, in plain English.
we see it, in the case of ASBOs, making them clearer and
easier to understand will benefit everyone.
on the internet -- some more amusing computer helpline
I keep getting inappropriate pop-ups on my computer and
don´t want my wife to think that it's me.
Tech Support: I will remove them for you.
Customer: How do I get them back when she is not in?
Support: What is your user name?
Customer: John Smith.
Tech Support: (searching for user name `johnsmith´
to no avail). That's your user
name, your login? The one your account uses?
Tech Support: So, John Smith is the user name for
Tech Support: (searches for customer account by
last name, finds a million
Smiths, finally finds account). We have your user name
listed as `wolf231´.
Tech Support: Not John Smith.
Tech Support: ... (speechless!)
How do I change channel on my monitor?
Tech Support: Your monitor won't have channels
like a TV.
Customer: But I was watching the internet channel
the other day and now I just get the word processing channel.
Support: What error message are you getting?
Customer: I'm not getting an error, it just won't
Tech Support: Nothing comes up when you try to
Customer: Nope, nothing happens at all. It doesn't
Tech Support: And nothing appears on the screen
Tech Support: Well. What happens to lead you to
believe that it isn't working?
Customer: It says Error 691, User Name or Password
Support: Can you click on 'My Computer'?
Customer: I don't have your computer, just mine.
My 14-year-old son has put a password on my computer and
I can't get in.
Tech Support: Has he forgotten it?
Customer: No, he just won't tell me it because
I've grounded him.
My iPod will only play one song.
Tech Support: Which other tracks have you downloaded
Customer: Do I need to download tracks?
Support: OK Bob, let's press the control and escape
keys at the same time. That brings up a task list in the
middle of the screen. Now type the letter 'P'
to bring up the Program Manager.
Customer: I don't have a 'P'.
Tech Support: On your keyboard, Bob.
Customer: What do you mean?
Tech Support: 'P' on your keyboard, Bob.
Customer: I'm not going to do that!
from the internet, some humorous anagrams:
Dormitory = dirty room
Presbyterian = best in prayer
Astronomer = moon starer
Desperation = a rope ends it
The eyes = they see
George Bush = he bugs Gore
The morse code = here come dots
Slot machines = cash lost in me
Animosity = is no amity
Election results = lies - let's recount
Snooze alarms = alas! No more Z's
A decimal point = I'm a dot in place
Eleven plus two = twelve plus one
Mother-in-law = woman Hitler
Whose letter is it?
one family in Derbyshire, England, the postman´s
arrival each morning can be a real headache. All eleven
people in the family have the same initials and surname.
mum and dad met and married they both had the initials
TJ, and they have since given all their nine children
names that also give them the initials TJ.
bet they´ll have years of fun sorting out the confusion
when various government departments get them mixed up
with each other.
US texting champion is a teenager
this month, Morgan Pozgar, a thirteen-year-old from Claysburg,
Pennsylvania, became the first US texting champion. Her
prize? A massive 25,000 dollars!
300 people took part in the competition and were tested
for both the speed
and accuracy of their texting. They were shown phrases
on overhead plasma screens and asked to type them on their
handsets exactly as they appeared without typos or abbreviations.
winning text was: `Supercalifragilisticexpialidocios!
Even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious.
If you say it loud enough you'll always sound precocious.´
to have won, Morgan said she sends over 4,000 text messages
wonder she´s good at it!
4. Did you know?
afraid of Friday 13th is called `paraskavedekatriaphobia´.
Local Education Authorities in Cologne, Germany, have
had to rethink their plans for contacting parents whose
children are not at school when they should be. The plan
was for teachers to send a text message when a pupil was
playing truant. Unfortunately, the authorities discovered
that most teachers didn´t know how to text and would
need lessons in how to do it.
fashion website www.missbutterfly.co.uk recently carried
out a survey to find out which cities in the UK have the
most fashionably dressed people. The survey found the
top five cities to be: London, Cardiff, Newcastle, Sheffield
and Belfast. At the topof the least fashionable cities
was Plymouth, followed by Aberdeen, Leeds, Leicester and
Glasgow. Although we're based in Sheffield, we´ve
never thought of ourselves as being particularly trendy
5. Self development
'Writing plain English' course date
have organised another of our public one-day 'Writing
plain English' courses. The course will be in London on
29 June 2007.
find out more, please go to our website at
our on-line course one lesson at a time
can now try our on-line course one lesson at a time. This
is a great idea if you want a refresher on just one or
two topics, or if you don't think you'll have thetime
to work through the whole course in 30 days. You get 30
days' access to each lesson you subscribe to.
will also get a free subscription to the introductory
lesson 'What do we mean by 'plain English'?' when you
subscribe to any other lesson.
are the lessons you can download:
do we mean by 'plain English'? An introduction to plain
English, which includes the main plain English techniques.
everyday words. Cut out the jargon and say what you mean.
your sentences short and effective. Learn how to divide
your writing into
manageable chunks to help your reader digest the message.
Includes using 'bullet lists'.
your writing 'human'. Make your writing personal to grab
the interest of your reader and create a good impression
of your organisation.
'actively' (using active verbs). Make your writing concise
by learning this simple technique.
and grammar. Master the essentials of these two topics
learn how to avoid some common pitfalls.
it all together. Applying plain English to letters and
reports, and with
some longer exercises to help you practise your new-found
How does it work?
you enrol we will send you a user name and password. Then
access our server and work on the lessons of your choice
as many times as you want over the next 30 days. Or you
can just enrol for one lesson, and then come back for
more when you're ready.
more information please go to:
6. Quotes of the month
`Is sloppiness in speech caused by ignorance or apathy?
I don't know and I don't care.´
writing is like a windowpane.´
is the best recommendation of speech, whether in a senator
or an orator`.
Marcus Tullius Cicero
is the most perfect expression of scorn.´
George Bernard Shaw
This is a free monthly news bulletin about plain language
and loosely related topics.
subscribe to the newsletter visit:
send your comments and suggestions.
you like to contribute?
are always happy to get articles about plain English or
other language-related topics.
contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
(44) 114 257 1400
Fax: (44) 114 257 1528
clear documents make you clearly better to do business