This blog shares some of our thoughts about plain language, and the latest discussions about plain English and clear design in New Zealand, and around the world.

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12 September 2011

A matter of tone

Plain English isn't just a matter of well-chosen headings, straight-forward words, short active sentences, clear layout, and good structure. Tone matters, too. Tone tells your reader what you think of them. Meredith and I saw a Sydney Buses sign that was a great example of what can happen when you don't get your tone right. It said:

"No smoking. No drinking. No eating. Security cameras are operating on this bus. Plain clothes policemen may be present on the bus."

Then, having made it clear that we weren't welcome, and weren't to be trusted, it went on:

"If you need any further information, please ask for a copy of our 'Welcome Aboard' brochure."

'Further'? 'Welcome Aboard'?  For more about what Sydney Buses thinks about its customers, see here.

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