Leichte Sprache – Design für alle (Sabina Sieghart, Kommunikationsdesignerin) Plain Language - Desi

This post is a reflection on the keynote by Sabina Sieghart at HKB in 2016

Plain language is communication your audience can understand the first time they read or hear it.

Plain languages is often used in the governmental organisations (main focus on the multilingual community focus). Governments and private organisations use plain language in main levels extensively in order to make information more accessible to people with different educational background or not to exclude the ones for whom the language of communication is not native one.

Following the link you can find more information about the worldwide organisations working on the topic "PLAIN LANGUAGE",

In my opinion using plain language is one of the best strategies for the clear communication nowadays, especially in the global context, where clear cross-cultural communication is a crucial point during the various meeting/discussion//conferences/congresses/publications/media etc.

The term "plain language" is mainly relevant to the English language since it is the world's most widely spoken language nowadays both in politics, science, art and other spheres of social life.

Therefore I would avoid overuse of the plain language in the written scientific texts, since the text is aimed to the closed community mainly, who is expected to have a deeper knowledge about the subject. Nevertheless text should stay still constructive and clear.

Referring to the The Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN)

We can name few aspects that might b useful while applying plain language:


  • Logical Organization

  • Informative Headings

  • Active Voice

  • Use Pronouns

  • Common Words

  • Use lists and tables


  • Jargon and legalese

  • Hidden Verbs

  • Passive Voice

  • Long sentences or paragraphs

  • Abbreviations

  • Unnecessary Words

  • Information the user doesn't want


Regarding my project “Who planted trees” - the book of illustrations/trees this is very important theme. In order to provide the audience with sufficient and clear information I need to focus on the following

  • Short sentences

  • Common, everyday words

  • Easy-to-read design features

The project gathers around participants from different countries and English is mainly not their native language. In this case using short words and clear grammatical constructions is more than important for the project to reach it’s goal and to be appreciated by the audience. Also this way of working with the text and workshop materials is necessary as the audience is of a various age groups: from kids to adults.

Using/applying plain language is not less important as well from the point of view of a graphic designer; the text/content itself will not work if it is not clearly structured/organized on the page.

We rarely pay attention to the advertisements /posts containing too much text on it.

Nowadays, structuring the content is necessary also because extremely large amount of information is processed by people every day.

( According to web resources approximately we process 54.000 words a day)

As an example of useful research material Ms. Sieghart mentioned the book by Sofie Beier “Designing for Legibility” that explains the importance of designing in a “clear/readable” way.

As a conclusion for this brief essay I would add the words by Carrie Cousins from the DesignSnack article dating to the July 22, 2013:

“Readability is the ease with which text can be read. Comprehension is a key factor in terms of readability, as is being able to quickly look at — and understand — lettering. Readable text can be scanned quickly, from a distance.”

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