2022 ended on a great note for us with a ‘Plain English Heroes award’ from the Plain English Campaign for our designs for Hospitals.
We had some great company in this category including: The Climate Coalition, Mind, Diabetes UK. We were commended on how we ‘communicated brilliantly with their audience while pushing a positive message’.
We’re great fans of the work of The Plain English Campaign. Its website is even recommended in the national NHS brand guidelines as a source of information and advice about written communications and Tone of Voice.
Writing and editing is an important, but unsung, part of work at Hospital Graphics. The heart of our mission is communicating clearly and effectively. The right words really do make a difference. We work hard to remove unnecessary words and details and get to the heart of any message.
Hospital environments can be stressful and unfamiliar. Anxiety reduces our ability to process information, so clarity is key. Keeping language simple will also improves inclusion for people with limited literacy skills, including many with English as a second language. 16.4%* of adults in England (7.1 million people) can be described as having ‘very poor literacy skills.’ They can understand short straightforward texts but reading information from unfamiliar sources can cause problems (*Literary Trust).
There’s an oft quoted line from the end of a letter from Mathematician Blaise Pascal: “I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter.” Editing is a job of work and it’s why copywriters should never charge by word count!
A regular challenge for us is the well intentioned desire to be polite and ‘proper’ in signs and notices. ‘Pleases’ and ‘Thank Yous’ can muddy the message. Say it simply. A short command is clear and is more likely to be acted upon.