UITS editorial style guide: Plain language

The information here is part of the UITS Style Guide.

On this page:


Plain language means using words people can easily understand. Using plain language makes content more findable, accessible, inclusive, and actionable. Everyday language helps readers:

  • Find information quickly
  • Understand what they've read
  • Act on that understanding

Avoid jargon and big words

Jargon can be vague or unfamiliar, leading to confusion or lack of trust. Complex words slow readers down, while simple and familiar words let readers concentrate on content. Try to avoid these common offenders:

Instead of Try
Assist, assistance Aid, help
Commence Begin, start
Demonstrate Show
Discover Find
Finalize Complete, finish
Implement Carry out, finish
Require Need
State-of-the-art, cutting edge Latest
Utilize Use

For more examples, see Use simple words and phrases.

Use accessible phrases rather than filler

Rather than using filler phrases such as "and more", make your text as specific as possible, so readers know both what to expect and what they should do.

Remove unnecessary words and details

Real-world examples:

Original Plain language
The improved IU Mobile application provides end users with the resources they need all in one singular space, with no regard to where they are. The IU Mobile application enables one to stay up-to-the-minute on important university business or information, efficiently receive access to IU pedagogical resources, and also to navigate course work assignments as well as other communication, whether the end user is on campus or perhaps somewhere else.
The improved IU Mobile app puts more of the tools you need in one place, no matter where you are. Stay updated on important university info, get easy access to IU learning resources, and manage class assignments and communication on campus or off.
The current policy of the lab is that time is allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis. Members cannot reserve additional time-slots until they have used an existing reservation.
Lab reservations are first-come, first-serve, but you must use your existing reservation before booking additional time.

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Last modified on 2023-08-09 13:51:58.