23 June, 2022
When it comes to the English language, it’s a fact that certain facets of the language can be a little misleading, which is why Text Inspector champions the Plain English Campaign.
Put simply; plain English is English written and formatted in its most clear and concise way, avoiding uncommon vocabulary and euphemisms when explaining things. It allows a broader audience to have a greater understanding of a topic, unfettered by complex words and vocabulary. Plain English is used regularly in insurance, legal and public sectors which need to ensure documentation is accessible for various users, promoting inclusion and understanding for those with learning difficulties and non-native English speakers and cultural differences – which are all factors Text Inspector’s tool can help affirm or improve which is precisely where the Plain English Campaign comes in.
Founded in 1979, the Plain English Campaign has been campaigning against and helping ‘stop the constant stream of misleading information in the public domain’. At the Plain English Campaign, it is a long-held belief that “everyone should have access to clear and concise information,” which is a message that rings as true today as it did some 43 years ago.
To further its cause the Plain English Campaign provides a mark of approval aptly named the “Crystal Mark” to various texts, which shows if the Plain English Campaign has approved the article. This drives businesses, organizations, and individuals to be more accessible, especially law firms and insurance companies where writing is traditionally hard to understand. When someone sees this mark, they know they can trust the information to be 100% easy to understand.
Text Inspector can help texts be more ‘plain’ and easier to understand, so it can bolster the very pertinent campaign in numerous ways. Our highly versatile tool helps people worldwide with similar issues to those the people over at the Plain English Campaign are fighting by focusing on several key areas as outlined below accompanied by relevant links on our website.
Firstly, there are vital statistics, which go over the basic statistics and structure of a text. For example, this section tells any given user a breakdown of sentence, word, and character counts and things like sentence length, and even syllables per text analyzed. Texts with longer sentences and more average syllables will, for example, be more complicated to read and understand. In short, this first layer of analysis gives a brief overview of the text, which can be very useful to get a quick look at the complexity of any given work.
Complexity and Diversity
Text inspector is critical in helping users who might not understand the English language extensively. One of its features is calculating the lexical diversity of a piece, which allows any given user to see the variety of words in the text being looked at. Texts with a wide diversity of vocabulary can be more complicated, so this is an important area for those writing accessible texts. Users aiming for more accessibility will look to reduce the diversity of the words used.
Along with complexity and diversity, our tool shows the readability of a piece of text, which can be very useful when determining if someone will understand the text as a whole. Text Inspector gives all texts a range of readability scores including the Flesh-Kincaid, a highly-regarded method for evaluating text readability.
Significantly, Text Inspector determines the text’s CEFR level, an international standard for describing language ability. A piece of text is given a story beginning at A1 through to C2. The higher a text’s group is, the more complex the text is. This overall (or composite) score is a key metric that those aiming to write in plain English should be considering.
Finally, our Text Inspector provides insight into a text’s Metadiscourse markers. Also known as transitions, these words, and phrases such as ‘firstly’ and ‘in conclusion’ add extra information and context to a writing sample. These markers effectively show how ideas in a text are connected, and allow a deeper understanding of which persuasion and direction a text follows, which can be instrumental information for ensuring a text is easy to follow and understand. This could mean that those writing plain English text should aim to use more metadiscourse markers in their work, which will effectively signpost their writing.
In conclusion, we at Text Inspector believe that our tool’s application scope goes hand in hand with the Plain English Campaign’s. Developed by renowned professors and linguists, Text Inspector is trusted by universities, colleges, and organizations across the world, as well as centers of learning worldwide such as the University of Oxford and National Geographic.
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