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Plain language

Make your content easy to understand with plain language.

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Why use plain language

Only 16% of New Zealand adults are considered to have high literacy levels[Footnote 1]. People may also:

  • be unfamiliar with the subject matter and related jargon
  • have poor computer skills.

Simple words make:

  • sentences easier to scan
  • content more accessible to a wider range of people, including people whose first language is not English.


The Readability Guidelines include detailed guidelines on the following topics:

  • Choose easy and short words not formal, long ones.
  • Jargon and buzzwords are unlikely to be clear language.
  • Write conversationally, in first person, using the active voice.
  • Test your content with users.
Plain English in the Readability Guidelines


  • Make your average sentence 15 words long.
  • Avoid complex sentence structures.
Simple sentences in the Readability Guidelines


Readability testing tools

Utility links and page information

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