Before You Start - Helpful Hints

When you are planning to produce any information for the public, you should always spend some time thinking about the questions below. This will help you to make sure that information you produce is for the right audience.

The Golden Rule

Always ask the person concerned. Never assume that you know best.

Who is Your Audience?

Do the audience and/or groups have any special needs?

What do you want to achieve with this information?

Are you:

What does the audience need to know?

How to decide what information must be produced in an alternative format?
Some information should be available from the outset in different formats to standard print, e.g. information for mass distribution or aimed at older people. Other information should be available in different formats when a customer requests it.

Have you allocated a budget for the alternative formats? Ensure that a budget is available to pay for different formats. Please note that some formats can be produced immediately and at virtually no cost, e.g. clear print. Producing information in different formats is often cheaper than people think.

When do I timetable the production of information in different formats? Making information accessible means ensuring that you have timetables for all formats to be available at the same time, unless it is upon request.

How do I present the material needed in an alternative format?
This again addresses which format to produce your information in and ensuring that it is clearly presented, i.e. typeface used (clearest font is Arial) and not justifying text to the right so that it is easier to follow (text in this directory is all justified to the left).

Are you using Plain English?

Using jargon, over-elaborate phrases and words that require specialist knowledge to be understood is a major barrier to good communication with communities.

If you set your information out clearly, then a reader will have a good understanding of the document the first time they read it.

A national Plain English Campaign operates in the UK, and all local authorities have either formal or informal commitments to keeping language simple and effective.

More information about the Plain English Campaign, and a handy A-Z guide of alternative words and phrases, can be found at

The same website provides information about the campaign's paid-for services that include checking individual documents and using the Crystal Mark logo on approved publications, and costs for its services.

The Communications Unit at Worcestershire County Council offers advice and help to people keen to use Plain English, Contact the Unit on: 01905 766642. Points on using Plain English

Do's : Don't:

How do you intend to get the information to your target audience?

The availability of information in accessible formats should be promoted widely. Each directorate should keep a list of documents that are available in alternative formats. Also, let the Corporate Diversity Manager know. This document can be made available in other languages (including British Sign Language) and alternative formats (large print, audio tape, computer disk and Braille) on request from (insert your details).

Some people may require information to be presented in more than one format, i.e. large print in Bengali or Easy English on Audio Tape.

When you produce information in a range of alternative formats it should be: