A great achievement for the people of Ireland: Programme for Government and plain language

The Programme for Government is available and we are delighted to see that it promises to:

‘Introduce a plain language requirement on all public service communication so people can understand information the first time they read or hear it. Using plain language saves time and money and reduces mistakes and complaints. We will consult with NALA.’

NALA is the National Adult Literacy Agency.

This is a fantastic endorsement of plain English (and plain language) and we look forward to provide our expertise as needed. It is a triumph for the people of Ireland and for the world of plain language.

Respond effectively to COVID-19

To respond effectively to COVID-19, we need to use plain English in all our communications with the public. This will help sustain the levels of co-operation and collective behaviours we need at this time.

Techniques that work when communicating:

  • knowing your audience and their information needs
  • presenting this information in a way your audience can relate to
  • being honest about the information you are presenting
  • being empathetic
  • using  plain English techniques and resources to write COVID-19 information
  • being aware of health literacy techniques when communicating about COVID-19 matters
  • getting external plain English expertise to help you craft your documents in a relatable and ethical way.

NALA’s plain English editing team specialise in creating clear and accessible. Contact: coriordan@nala.ie your document or web link for a quote. Remember to mention who your reader is.

Maths and COVID-19 – help available

I bet most of us are thankful we have a basic knowledge of maths in this unprecedented time.  Maths help us understand what median, modelling and SIR means.

But, what about those who don’t have this basic knowledge? In Ireland, one in four adults in this country have very low maths skills (OECD figures). They can’t read the correct dosage on medicine labels or find the fat content on food labels. Maths is important.  NALA offer Freephone support to adults with numeracy, literacy and numeracy needs. The number is 1 800 20 20 65. The public can also Freetext LEARN to 50050 and one of NALA’s staff we will call them back.

Content writers

Meanwhile for content writers please remember when you are writing and using maths concepts that you explain them using practical examples.  I like this poster showing social distancing from Health Service Executive in Ireland.

NALA can also edit mathematical content using plain English and plain numbers writing and presentation techniques. We also listen carefully to maths experts!




Words in the time of COVID-19: Do you know them all?

We are hearing a lot of new words these days. Some of these words might be new to you. Here are just a few and what they mean.

Asymptomatic – not showing signs or symptoms of COVID-19 but you can still pass the virus to others.

Epidemiology: the study of the spread or pattern of sickness in a group of people.

Respiratory etiquette: this includes coughing into a flexed (bent elbow)

Triage: the difficult process of determining the priority of patients’ treatments based on the severity of their condition.

Tell us more words you are hearing and we will try and define them for you (email: coriordan@nala.ie). Meanwhile,  keep your social distance (3 arm-lengths away) and wash your hands!





Business as usual in our editing service

Hello there! I hope you and yours are doing well. It is a time of unrelenting news and drama. In the midst of it all, we are continuing to provide our editing services so do contact us if you would like a quote. Email: coriordan@nala.ie

Our upcoming open-day courses have been postponed and we will post new dates here and on www.nala.ie when they have been re-scheduled. We can discuss telephone mentoring if you like. Again, email us if this interests you.

Otherwise, please keep safe and use our free resources when creating COVID-19 or other important information.



I am sure you are worried about COVID-19. I am too.

For all the madness at this time, I take heart from the Health Service Executive (HSE) and its clear messaging about the pandemic.

The HSE is using plain English in its written and verbal communications. This means its messaging  is clear and simple. I really appreciate its work to inform us about what we can do to protect ourselves and others. The rest is largely up to us.

Wishing you and yours clear communication and good health.



Google updates its terms of service in plain language

Yes, you read that correctly. Google’s updated terms of service in plain language come into effect in March. We read that this update comes ‘after EU scrutiny’. Its updated terms are now longer as they include definitions but it is good news for us as consumers.

On a happier note, NALA offers plain English training to help companies and individuals improve the quality and clarity of its writing. Its next open courses are on 22 April and 17 June. You can enrol and pay just €130 using the links given. We also provide customised training for companies. Email coriordan@nala.ie for more information.





NALA – registered charity

NALA stands for the National Adult Literacy Agency – an agency committed to adult literacy development and supporting organisations to improve the quality and clarity of their information. The latter we achieve partly through the free resources on this site.

We are also a registered charity (RCN is 20020965). As such, we do not charge VAT on our editing services. Moreover, we offer discounts to members of NALA. The fee differs depending on if you are a small or large organisation.

NALA is the leading provider of plain English editing and training services in Ireland, and this area of our work chimes with our mission. Making information easier for everyone makes it easier for the 1 in 4 adults in Ireland who has a literacy difficulty.

To find out more about NALA’s work and or discounts on editing work, please contact coriordan@nala.ie



Free political guide in plain English and free webinar 24 January

With the general election set for Saturday 8 February, we will be hearing a lot more about fresh mandates, manifestos, swing voters, fiscal space, building an Ireland for all and a future to look forward to – but not before the Government is dissolved – just like an aspirin!

In response to all this jargon, we have a ‘Plain English Guide’. It explains the terms often used by politicians, so you will understand what they are saying. Remember, when people are canvassing for your vote mention the important of plain English – and adult literacy development. (Did you know that almost 12% of the workforce have less than a Junior Certificate qualification?)

We also have a plain English webinar this Friday.  Tune in at 10am to learn more!