Easy English

Communication and Health Literacy

Print version

Main point

Easy English Focuses on giving the key points not all the detail.  Words are used with images to support the message to the reader.  Information is given in sequence and written so the reader is clear about the content and what they need to do.

Reading an Easy English document can be something someone does with another person, such as a friend, family member or support person.  Through talking, the meaning of the document can be checked and understood, and further details given.  Once the document has been explained, it can be a useful reminder to the person later.

What is Easy English

Easy English is a way of writing that uses everyday words, simple sentences and images to support the messages.  It is different to plan English, or plain language.

Who is Easy English for?

Easy English is for anyone who has difficulty reading English. This includes people with low literacy levels, a learning disability, and acquired disability or whose main language is not English.

The Tasmanian Government has committed to providing information in 'accessible formats', including Easy English.  To help decide whether your document needs to be in Easy English, see the Easy English Audience Analyser on the Tasmanian Government Communications Website.

Preparing documents in Easy English1

Translating documents to Easy English requires skill and knowledge. If you prepare your own Easy English documents, test your document with people in your target audience. Alternatively, get an expert to translate your plain English document to Easy English.

Use the tips on this sheet alongside the Using Plain Language information.

Make it easy for your audience to know the document is for them

  • Use a short simple title that makes the content clear, rather than a catchy tag line.
  • On the inside cover, include the date of publication, contact details, who the document is for and other formats and languages the document is available in.

Make it easy for readers to know what to read first

  • Use one side of the page, include page numbers and don't use columns.
  • Left align
  • For brochures, use a single fold.

Make it easy to find information within the document

  • Include only the main points – the information your target audience needs.
  • Use headings and dot points.
  • Use a bold font and/or text boxes to highlight important parts.
  • Consider including an index and glossary.
  • Use page numbers

Make it easy to read

  • Be clear. Focus on Facts. Write key points
  • Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs
  • Use one idea per sentence
  • Use clear examples that show what you mean
  • Talk to your reader, use ‘you’
  • Be specific and consistent.  Keep language simple
  • Use the appropriate font, at size 14 or larger. Avoid UPPER CASE ONLY and italics, and only use underline for web addresses.
  • Avoid even simple abbreviations. For example, write ‘it is’ not ‘it’s’; ‘street’ not ‘St’
  • Write numbers as numerals, not words. For example, use ‘2’ not ‘two’
  • Limit punctuation

Use images

  • Use images to add meaning to headings and key messages.
  • Put an image on your title page to show what the document is about.
  • Be consistent. Use the same image to communicate the same concept throughout.
  • Use images that are clear and unambiguous, and that your audience will relate to from their life experiences.
  • Remove background clutter; focus on the part of the image that supports your message.
  • Provide 'alternative text'2 for those using screen readers.

1. Scope Victoria, Scope for people with a disability, Communication Resource Centre, Scope Victoria, Box Hill, 2013, viewed 21 July 2014, www.scopevic.org.au/index.php/site/resources

2. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), 2008, viewed 21 July 2014, www.w3.org/WAI/intro/wcag.php

January 2019