Aren't we just talking about 'dumbing down'?

Your message can be just as 'rich' in content when you use plain English. It's only 'dumbing down' if you leave out the detail, or gloss over issues without explaining them properly.

Plain English is the most appropriate writing style to use if you want to pass on clear information to your readers. Your readers will appreciate the clarity of your writing, because you will save them time and they will understand exactly what you are telling them or what you want them to do.

But my message is complicated!

Even if the content of a message is complicated, you can still use a clear and straightforward writing style. Keep this distinction between content and style very clear in your mind.

The more complicated your content, the more care you need to take to make sure your writing style is clear and straightforward. Even complex legal documents can be, and have been, written in plain English without losing precision or legal force.

Won't getting straight to the point appear rude?

That's a good point. That's why we put so much emphasis on writing your message from the reader's point of view.

It's not enough to just make sure your message is easy to understand. You need to put yourself in your reader's place and ask yourself 'how would I feel if I was the reader?'

If you follow our advice to imagine that you are talking to your reader, you shouldn't have a problem. After all, you wouldn't be rude if you were talking instead of writing.

Why should I sacrifice my wide vocabulary?

We wouldn't ask you to sacrifice your vocabulary. What you have to ask yourself is 'why am I writing to my readers?'

They must be important to you for some reason. Perhaps they are customers or potential customers. or if you're in the public sector, they might be the people you provide a service for.

Either way, they are paying your wages! You owe it to your readers to take the time and trouble to communicate clearly.

But I write to some well-educated people!

The important thing is to make sure that your language is appropriate to your readers, whoever they are. So if your readers are well educated, then fine. This gives you a bit more freedom to use a more complex or unusual word where it is appropriate.

But remember that your readers are likely to be busy people, and will want to read your message and understand it straight away. So don't waste their time.

And if your writing makes them suspect that you are just out to impress them with your wide vocabulary, they will probably delete or throw away your message before they get to the end.