Using the wrong language can impact on understanding and can also affect how your readers view you. Appropriate language means that the language is chosen for your intended audience. Appropriateness is made up of


Choose language which is at the right level of formality or informality for the setting. A contract would have much more formal language than a marketing document


Choose the right words for the job, if writing for a general audience you may need to include a definition of specialised words and phrases the first time you use them, or a glossary at the end.

Specialised language/Jargon

Only use specialised language/jargon if it is appropriate for the subject matter and audience, good practice would be to provide a definition for any such words or phrases.


Avoid using slang words or expressions.

Biased language

Choose words which are free from racial, ethnic or gender bias. In particular be careful not to use stereotypical language unless you have explicit evidence for it eg don’t say ‘everyone who lives there does ... ‘, ‘students all want ... ‘ unless you can show the evidence.


Write in concise sentences with a single idea in each sentence. In particular, if giving instructions, make sure each instruction contains just one thing to do.


  • Form into groups of 6
  • Make sure there is at least one person from each faculty in the group
  • Make sure there is only one person from each school in the group

rather than

  • Form into groups of 6 with at least one person from each faculty in the group and no more than one person from each school in the group


Test your documents readability in Microsoft Office