Writers Write

Month: March, 2013

Plain Language Made Easy

How do you write to comply with the Consumer Protection Act?

There is an Act called the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) No 68 of 2008.Protecting the consumer is a priority in South Africa. High levels of illiteracy and social inequality have brought Plain Language into focus.

Amanda Patterson Writers Write

Amanda Patterson, the founder of Writers Write and The Plain Language Programme, has been teaching plain language for 10 years. The company’s courses ensure that writing is easy to read. More than 150 of her students have been published using these techniques.

What is Plain Language in the CPA? 

Plain Language is writing that allows everyone the right to fair trade. The law protects a consumer’s economic and physical well-being. It gives recourse to consumers if agreements are broken or not clearly explained. The consumer has the right to understand what you say and to trust what you write. The penalty for not being clear could be a fine or a jail sentence.
 
How is this relevant to business writing?

Consumers must be able to understand written communications. Your loyalty program may no longer comply with the law. Every written thing, including product labels, emails and internal communications, must be clearly written and clearly understood.
 
How do you comply with the CPA?

Remove ambiguity. Reword legal small print. Ask, ‘Would a reasonable person understand what has been written?’

Content must:

  1. Be consistent and comprehensive.
  2. Have an easy to understand format and style.
  3. Contain simple vocabulary, clear headings and a phrase-free sentence structure.

A company should:

  1. Edit existing communications.
  2. Train staff to write in Plain Language.
  3. Implement a Plain Language programme.

‘Begin with grammar,’ says Patterson. ‘Plain Language can only be applied when the basics are understood.’

Writers Write promotes plain language writing skills. The company offers Creative Writing Solutions for Business Writing Problems. Clients include major banks, insurance companies and corporations from all sectors, as well as institutions and provincial and national government structures.

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. To find out about Writers Write – How to write a book, or The Plain Language Programme – Writing courses for business, email news@writerswrite.co.za

Join us on Facebook and Twitter for daily writing tips

Writers Write – Write to communicate

Plain Language Defined

Section 22. Right to information in plain and understandable language

(2) For the purposes of this Act, a notice, document or visual representation is in plain language if it is reasonable to conclude that an ordinary consumer of the class of persons for whom the notice, document or visual representation is intended, with average literacy skills and minimal experience as a consumer of the relevant goods or services, could be expected to understand the content, significance, and import of the notice, document or visual representation without undue effort, having regard to—

(a) the context, comprehensiveness and consistency of the notice, document or visual representation;
(b) the organisation, form and style of the notice, document or visual representation;
(c) the vocabulary, usage and sentence structure of the notice, document or visual representation; and
(d) the use of any illustrations, examples, headings, or other aids to reading and understanding

From the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) No 68 of 2008

Writers Write posts updated information on Plain Language Legislation and equips business writers with Plain Language Writing Skills

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. To find out about Writers Write – How to write a book, or The Plain Language Programme – Writing courses for business, email news@writerswrite.co.za

Join us on Facebook and Twitter for daily writing tips

Writers Write – Write to communicate