Learn how to apply plain language writing principles.

Our main writing goal is to help readers understand or learn something. Use:

  • Plain, everyday words.
  • Short, simple sentences.
  • A grade six to eight reading level for a general public audience (pro tip: use Microsoft grammar check or an online readability tool to assess the reading level of your document).

For more information about plain language, search ‘Patient education’ on Pulse.

You can also download our plain language writing checklist.

Avoid acronyms

  • Spell out acronyms on first reference. Example: Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Team.
  • Some exceptions may apply in cases when the acronym has become more familiar and less complicated to understand. Example: CAT scan.

Use the active voice

  • The active voice adds precision, removes ambiguity and gives ownership, making your statements more credible. Example: Our medical health officer advised us to stay hydrated in hot weather.
  • The passive voice is vague and wordy. Example: It was said that it is good to stay hydrated in hot weather.

Use strong verbs


  • We made a decision. (weak) We decided. (strong)
  • We did a distribution of The Beat newsletter. (weak) We distributed The Beat newsletter. (strong)

Download our writing style guide.