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5,000 people have signed our petition for plain English

We are delighted to announce that over 5,000 people have signed our petition that asks the Taoiseach to ensure that all public information is written in plain English.

We know that both citizens and governments benefit from clear information, written in plain English. Citizens are more likely to understand their rights and governments are more likely to make better use of their resources.

That's why we recommend that all public information produced by Government and its agencies is written in plain English.

After all, plain English encourages individuals to engage with public services and make informed decisions when doing so. It can also save the public sector time, money and possible frustration by having to make repeated requests for information.

What is plain English?

Plain English is a style of presenting information that helps you understand it the first time you read it. It involves short clear sentences and using everyday words. It does not involve small print or unnecessary jargon.

Sound reasonable?

That's because it is.

Recent research found that almost 95% of Irish adults are in favour of plain English. About half of them (48%) find official documents, including information from the Government difficult to understand. They also find jargon, terms and conditions, and financial information challenging.

Our petition calls for public information such as letters, forms and information leaflets to be written in plain English.
This means:

  • using everyday words where possible;
  • explaining specialised words if they can't be avoided;
  • keeping sentences to about 15 to 20 words; and
  • using a readable font type and size.

Why is it important?

It's only fair. Plain English gives us information in a language we can understand and helps us to make informed choices. It is particularly important to provide information in plain English for people with literacy difficulties.

What next?

We now plan to use the signatures from this petition to ask the Taoiseach to ensure that all public information produced by Government and its agencies is written in plain English.

Thank you for your support.

Inez Bailey
Director
The National Adult Literacy Agency