This site uses cookies to store information on your computer. I'm fine with this Cookie information

Choosing words carefully

Write about people positively.  Think about inclusive language. Know how the people you are writing for like to describe themselves. Check if there are descriptions that are not suitable. There are NICE guidelines here to help you with many dos and dont’s for healthcare professionals. Refresh your knowledge.  Remember - conditions describe what a person has, not what a person is.

Stick to straightforward language. We all appreciate simpler, clearer writing. It saves our time and energy. We can concentrate on the message.

  • Some of us do not find reading easy – the average reading age in Scotland is around 11 years
  • Some of us do not have English as a first language. The 2011 Scottish Census found that more than 150 languages other than English are used in Scottish homes
  • Some of us are anxious or distressed about our health or a loved one
  • We all know how it is to be busy, distracted, working in a noisy environment, or have too much to do

If you need to use clinical or technical terms give a lay term or clear definitions alongside them, for example ‘difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)’.

Keep asking yourself - is there a shorter or simpler way to say what I need to?

Next >