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.
does Plain English save you money?
People read quicker, understand better, and remember
longer. This means:
Fewer support calls
into other languages
Better customer satisfaction.
sales (true story).
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
"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'
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
British Government saved £500 million
Plain English has saved the British
Government about £500 million in the last 20 years.
- Preston City Council
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
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
- "Technical Communication"
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
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
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
Our One-Day Technical Writing Course
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
is the trade mark and brand name
owned by Philip Tory,
Consultant Technical Author, Gloucester, UK.