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!

Plain legal language and rights

We are excited to announce that we (NALA) are working with plain language experts and criminal defence lawyers from 14 EU Member States to review national letters of rights for people in custody. We recently took part in intensive training and debate in this area in Brussels, and we have plans to further develop our expertise to help make it easier for people to understand legal information about their rights. Keep tuned!

Updates and discounts

Lessons from PLAIN’s 2020 conference

The Plain Language Association International’s conference this year was excellent.

The use of plain English (and plain language) is increasingly being mainstreamed. At PLAIN’s conference, I heard the fantastic announcement that the ISO recently agreed to support the development of international pain language standards. I also heard about  pending plain language legislation in several countries – our own draft Plain Language Bill but also other legislation coming on stream in Norway and elsewhere.

To ensure your information is clear, consider using our Plain English Editing and Training Service. You can get discounts if you become a member of NALA – the National Adult Literacy Agency, Ireland. For more information, email coriordan@nala.ie

Do you want to learn how to write and present information in plain English?

Do you want to get free resources to help you do this?

If you answered yes to both questions, then our 21 November plain English course in Dublin is for you. Read about this course and book now before all places are taken.

Look out too for our 2020 list of open day plain English courses.

International Plain Language Day 13 October

This Sunday marks International Plain Language Day. It is a time to celebrate and reflect on our successes in plain English – and the work left to do.

Our ultimate goal in our Plain English Service is to support organisations to make their information more accessible to their readers. Writing clear and compelling content benefits all readers, but especially those with literacy difficulties (1 in 6 adults in this country).


We want to pay special tribute to government departments working hard to produce information in plain English. These include the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (to name just two). There are many other organisations working away to make their writing more accessible.  Well done!

Join us in a toast

We are marking International Plain Language Day by issuing a press release and by holding several in-house meetings about our plans to develop our services in plain English. While the actual International Plain Language Day is this Sunday, our meetings won’t be! However, I certainly will raise a toast to all things plain English on the day itself. I hope you join me!


Claire O’Riordan