Published April 15, 2020

Author: Adeline Witte
Medior copywriter at Crossphase

As a copywriter I spend my days writing all sorts of online texts. Most of the texts I write are written in plain language - or B1-texts in Dutch. In this blog, I’ll tell you how plain language texts can make a world of difference to your visitors!

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What is B1?

B1. No, I’m not talking about the vitamin - just in case you’re wondering. I’m talking about the language level. In Europe, we have divided language skills in six levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2.

If you can read and speak a language on the level A1, you can read, write and speak very simple sentences. You can introduce yourself, for example. If you are at C2, then you can express yourself effortlessly in almost any situation in both speech and writing. You can understand even the most difficult texts, such as legal texts and scientific articles. At B1, you’re right in the middle!

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Quiz: which sentence is written in plain language?

  1. We recommend you to consistently communicate at B1, to ensure that the verbiage of any and all texts can be easily interpreted.
  2. Use plain language, it makes your texts easy to understand.

I think we all know the answer to this, right? Sentence 1 is written at C2, while sentence 2 is written in plain language.

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A practical example

A few months ago, I worked as an SEO copywriter at Vattenfall, a Swedish power company. I wrote about different topics related to sustainability, such as wind turbines, solar panels and climate neutral renovations. My biggest challenge was to explain difficult things in a language that was easy to understand! Think with me, here. Which sentence would you choose?

1. Before entering into a renovation project, it is advisable to take some preparatory measures. E.g. enquire whether your house is supplied with the correct insulation. This ensures that heat is optimally retained in your residence, which in turn has a favorable effect on your energy costs.

2. Are you planning a renovation? Make sure to check the insulation of your house before you start. Good insulation will help you keep the heat in and keep your energy bill low.

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    Here’s how plain language texts can help your organisation

    Did you know that 80% of all Dutchmen understand texts written in plain language? And that only 5% of the population can understand texts at C2? It kind of makes sense, but on a day to day basis I still run across websites with text that are just too difficult - and therefore unreadable to many visitors.

    You increase conversion

    If you write in plain language, most of your visitors will be able to understand your texts. This means they can effortlessly navigate through your website. In short, your website becomes digitally accessible. You’ll prevent visitors from disconnecting, which would make you miss out on conversions. So with texts written in plain language you’ll improve your conversion!

    You improve your user experience

    Did you know that people who can understand texts written at C1 and C2, also prefer to read plain language texts (myself included)? A lot of people think that texts written in plain language are childish, but they are wrong. A plain language text is easier to read for everyone. So you’ll also improve your user experience.

    Plain language: more than just using simple sentences

    So is writing in plain language just about removing difficult words and shortening your sentences? Plain language texts also have:

    1. A logical structure

    Your texts can consist of very clear and simple sentences, but without a logical structure you won’t get very far. You can compare it to a beautiful house that has a bad foundation.

    2. A short and goal-oriented content

    Cut and cut ‘till you can cut no more! Most people tend to make their texts too long. The result: ‘stuffy’ texts with a lot of unnecessary information. And that can make a text difficult to read.

    3. Structure

    Headings and lists (with numbers and bullets) make it easier to scan your text and make them a lot clearer.

    Conclusion? Texts written in plain language:

    • Can be read by the majority (80%) of the population. And people who can read more difficult texts also prefer plain language.
    • Make your website digitally accessible. This increases your chance for conversion.
    • Are more than just a string of simple sentences slapped together. Good structure and clear content are also important in plain language. These make your text easier to read and improve your user experience.

    In short, texts written in plain language make your website better.

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    Could your texts use a plain language makeover?

    Our copywriters have a lot of experience with writing plain language. Please, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to discuss how we can help your organisation.

    Sacha accountmanager
    Sacha van den Broek
    Business Developer

    Discover what we can do for your organisation

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