How to Use Plain English in Writing Business Letters

WritingSkills.my.id - Plain English is clear English. This style is simple and direct, but not neglecting its respectful and fri...

4 Techniques Using Plain English in Writing Letters

WritingSkills.my.id - Plain English is clear English. This style is simple and direct, but not neglecting its respectful and friendly tone. Of course, using Plain English does not mean everyone would write the same style. Everyone has their own style which might be different. Plain English is one of effective ways to convey information in the form of writing.

The following are main techniques which can help writing letters using Plain English:

1. Short Sentences

The length of sentences has very important role in making a good writing. In English, most of advanced writers use approximately 15 to 20 words in every sentence. This does not mean that every sentence must be composed of the same amount of words. Of course, it is needed variation in long or short sentences, but there is balance between them, so that in average, every sentence does not consist of more than 20 words.

Compare these examples:

Long Sentences (One sentence consists of 45 words)
I refer to my letter of 13th June and am writing to advise you that if we do not receive your completed application form within the next fourteen days, I shall have no alternative but to arrange property insurance on the bank's block policy.

Shorter Sentences (Two sentences consists of 13 and 24 words)
I have not yet received you reply to my letter of 13th June. If we do not receive your completed application form within fourteen days, I shall have to arrange property insurance on the bank's block policy.

2. Simple Words Rather Than Complex Words

Many writers have difficulty in conveying their intention in simple way but clearly. They often use complex words and specific terms rather than everyday language and colloquial words. Actually, colloquial words and general terms would make the intention of the letter easier to understand by the readers. Too often most writers use "additional", "indicate", "initiate", and "proliferate" which actually can be replaced by "extra", "show", "start", and "spread".

Compare these examples:
Complex Sentence
As we noted in the preceding section, if you purchased additional printer options, such as a second printer tray, it is a requirement that you verify its correct installation.

Simple Sentence
As we noted in the previous section, if you bought extra printer equipment, such as a second printer tray, you must check that you install it correctly.

3. Avoid Jargon and Specific Terms

Using specific terms or jargon without an explanation could give the readers uncomfortable feeling, because basically most people prefer to use everyday language and simple words. So, it is better to avoid the use of jargon and specific terms.

4. Avoid Acronyms

The common and annoying form of jargon is the use of excessive acronyms. These are some examples of acronyms:
  • CRA = Camera-ready Artwork
  • DPI = Dots Per Inch
  • DTP = Desktop Publishing
  • PMS = Pantone Matching System
  • SC = Spot Color
  • UGD = User Guide Documentation

Just like jargon and specific terms which often confuse the readers, the use of acronyms gives the same result too. Therefore, to make an effective business letters, it is better to avoid acronyms. If it is necessary to use acronyms, make sure there are proper explanations to the acronyms.

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