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Plain English campaign news articles

Labelling lunacy loose on our roads

Following complaints from drivers over the Easter break, we are highlighting the confusing and unnecessary road signs that have appeared up and down our roads and motorway.

Road users have asked us whether the increasing numbers of messages and signs are a help or a distraction. They have quoted ‘Don’t drink and drive’ messages and advice to look at websites as particularly annoying. And some visitors from abroad have struggled with phrases such as ‘adverse weather ahead’ instead of simply being told to expect rain, fog or snow.

Read more: Labelling lunacy loose on our roads

Plain English rates for mobile phone users

Plain English Campaign congratulated campaigners and welcomed the recommendation from Ofcom that mobile termination rates should be lowered. Ofcom’s proposals could see mobile termination rates gradually lowered over the next four years, from the current 4p a minute to 0.5p, providing the recommendation survives opposition during the remaining 12 months of the consultation period.

Read more: Plain English rates for mobile phone users

plain English npower bill

Which power brings crystal-clear bills?

Plain English Campaign and Which?, the consumer group, are celebrating a breakthrough in energy billing.  The first plain English npower bill has received the campaign's Crystal Mark for clarity.

Chrissie Maher OBE, founder of Plain English Campaign, says, "This positive action from one of the big six marks a silver lining for the public who have been left in the dark for too long with confusing bills.  It's bound to save time and money for everyone.  I know it would help in my choice of energy provider, if I can understand what I'm paying each quarter."

Read more: plain English npower bill

Ambient sausage rolls

Musical sausage rolls liven up a plain lunch box

Bemused members of the public have been asking us for a plain English translation for the ‘ambient sausage rolls’  sold by The Co-operative supermarket.

Chrissie Maher, OBE and founder of Plain English Campaign said, ‘These sausage rolls have escaped from the technical production lines of the food industry to bring confusion and ruin the ‘ambience’ of our lunch breaks.’

Read more: Ambient sausage rolls

Bob's your pound

When a pound is not a pound, it’s a burger

Plain English Campaign accepts that language changes to reflect the changes in our society. But that makes it even more important for businesses to get the facts right when encouraging customers to spend money.

There has been a surge of public objection about the information contained in a recent burger advertisement. The advertisement for ‘pound saver meals’ compares a £1 (one pound) to a ‘bob’ (slang for a shilling) as part of the promotion for the company’s 99 pence burger.

Read more: Bob's your pound

Chilcott and UN1441

UN 1441 was not crystal-clear, but it should have been

Plain English Campaign was shocked to hear the frequent mention of the words ‘lack of clarity’, ‘unclear’ and ‘ambiguity’ during the Iraq war hearing. The investigatory panel and Lord Goldsmith were referring to the wording in documents, central to decisions for participation in the Iraq war.

The lack of clarity in the documents was not helped by the use of jargon like ‘automaticity’ and inappropriate use of legal terms like ‘material breach’. According to Lord Goldsmith, the ambiguous interpretations from translating the French words ‘se prononcer’, to either ‘consider’ or ‘decide’, had a major bearing on the need for a second resolution.

Read more: Chilcott and UN1441

Maddening instruction manuals

Great guide or maddening manual?

Did you get a lovely new electronic gadget this Christmas? Have you bought one in the January sales?

Was the manual a masterpiece of instruction or did you give up the will to live on the second page?

Read more: Maddening instruction manuals

Parking sign sins

The English language is often misused to aid and abet all manner of deceit, dubious money-making and generally dodgy behaviour. Parking tickets can be the stuff of fury and contention at the best of times, but misleading or evasive parking signs compound an already simmering issue.

Do you have any examples of confusing, deliberately vague or rage-inducing parking signs? If so, please send them to us at and we will publish the best photos.

Read more: Parking sign sins

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