Leading UK Consultants


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Plain English saves you Time and Money

The Cost of Bad Documentation

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User-friendly documentation saves you time and money. Wherever possible, you need to write Manuals and Help Guides in user-friendly language.

Do you need to write user-friendly documentation in Plain English?

Learn the best way to write documentation in Plain English - look for the link on the Home Page for a free download of my Technical Writer Training Course.

How does Plain English save you money?

People read quicker, understand better, and remember longer. This means:

  • Better productivity

  • Fewer support calls

  • Easier translation into other languages

  • Better customer satisfaction.

  • Higher sales (true story).

Independent Research says it works!

Independent research, from companies and governments around the world, continues to demonstrate that clear, user-friendly English produces significant business benefits. Here are some examples, taken from many and various sources.

New manual in Plain English saved 125 support calls a month.

"In one test, customers who used the clearly written manual made about 125 fewer calls a month than customers who used the old manual."    - Cathy J. Spencer & Diana Kilbourn Yates, 'A Good User's Guide Means Fewer Support Calls and Lower Support Costs' (1995).

Royal Mail saved 1/2 million in 9 months.

Before consultant specialists clarified a redirection-of-mail form for Royal Mail UK, there was an 87% error rate when customers filled it out. Royal Mail was spending over 10,000 a week handling complaints and reprocessing incorrect forms. The revised form in plain English reduced the error rate dramatically, saving Royal Mail 500,000 in the next nine months.  

US Navy could save $250 to $350 million a year.

In 1989, there was a study of naval officers who read a business memo, written either in plain language or in a bureaucratic style. Those who read the easy version understood it better, took 17% to 23% less time to read it, and felt less need to read it again.

Even more staggering is the projected cost saving of $250 to $350 million a year, if all naval personnel (not just officers) could read plain language documents.   
- James Suchan & Robert Colucci, The High Cost of Bureaucratic Written Communications (1991).

British Government saved 500 million

Plain English has saved the British Government about 500 million in the last 20 years.
- Preston City Council web site

British Citizenship - New Application Form saved 20,000 hours a year

In 1983, the UK Home Office produced a new plain English application for British Citizenship that takes people 15 minutes less to complete than the old one. This saved the public 20,000 hours a year.  

Department of Health and Social Security saved 1.5 million a year

The Department of Health and Social Security introduced plain language application forms for legal aid in 1984. It cost the Department about 25,000 to develop and test the forms, but they saved 1,500,000 in staff time per year.

GEC saves up to $375,000 a year per customer

At GEC, a new manual in plain English saved 125 support calls a month from just one customer. Applying the average cost of support calls, GEC estimates that it saves between $22,000 and $375,000 a year for each business customer who uses the new manual.     - "Technical Communication" 1995

Royal Insurance Company sales up by 38%

Canada, the Royal Insurance Company unveiled its “simple English” Select Homeshield Policy for home insurance. Sales increased 38%, from $58 million to $79 million in the same year.

State of Victoria, Australia, saved $400,000

The State of Victoria, Australia, saved $400,000 by simplifying the wording on a summons forms so people could understand it. They were able to reassign 16 clerks and 10 police officers.

Arizona Department of Revenue able to process 30,000 more claims a year

In 2006, the Arizona Department of Revenue rewrote many of its standard letters into plain language. Phone calls went down so much in 2007 that workers were able to process about 30,000 more claims than they had in the previous year.    - "Arizona Republic" newspaper

Royal Mail Redirection Form

Royal Mail saved 500,000 in 9 months by redesigning one form in Plain English.     - Siegel and Gail

USA Plain Writing Act 2010

Every federal agency must communicate to the public in “clear, concise, well-organised” language. The White House emphasizes the potential cost savings from translating legalese to lucid prose. Each call for clarification from taxpayers costs the IRS agency $25, and it received 110 million calls in 2010 alone.   - Cass Sunstein, Regulatory Chief, US Inland Revenue Service 2011

Leading UK Consultants

Our One-Day Technical Writing Course

Learn how to write in Plain English with my Technical Writing Course. Be a Plain English Author from now on, for your own documentation. Follow the link on the home page.

Leading UK Consultants

Authorgraphic is the trade mark and brand name
owned by Philip Tory, BSc(Hons).
Consultant Technical Author, Gloucester, UK.  Retired.

Plain English from leading UK Consultants