The Consumer Protection Act makes it law for South African businesses to provide information to their customers in plain and understandable language.
Bev Hawthorne, director of local training provider The Writing School says that while the Plain Language message is out there, it just doesn't seem to be making a real difference. "On a daily basis, I come across shocking examples of misspelling, bad grammar and incorrect punctuation, not to mention the number of letters and reports that are absolute gobbledygook."
Hawthorne, who has worked with large multinationals, small owner-run operations and numerous government departments over the past 10 years, says she feels so strongly about making more people reassess the way they write emails, reports and other business documents, that The Writing School is offering various free services for a limited period. "It's time for drastic action and we're up for the challenge," she says.
The Writing School, one of a handful of accredited training providers in the country specialising in Plain Language, has two interesting offers for those who are not convinced the Plain Language route is the way to go, or for those who know they could improve their day-to-day writing but are not sure how to begin.
First, business writers are invited to email The Writing School's team a one-page document which they'll edit for free. Second, if you have a group of 10 or more whose job involves writing at work, the team will come to you to give an eye-opening one-hour free presentation on the value of communicating in plain language.
The Writing School's flagship Plain Business Writing course is now available online.
Says Hawthorne: "While South Africans are reasonably new to e-learning, once you try it, you'll be hooked. It's a fun, affordable way to learn new skills in your own time and at your own pace."
The team is looking to add other courses, including Report Writing and Writing for Meetings, to the online portfolio during the course of the year.
Send one email, letter, brief, brochure or other business text to and, providing it is approximately 300 words, it will be evaluated for you and suggestions will be made to improve readability. Certain terms and conditions will apply.
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