Document accreditation

Reliable document accreditation services

Are you sure your message is getting through to your customers? Business people know their business, but few realize that good, clear writing takes skill, practice and technique. Plain Language Commission can provide your business with an accurate and thorough document accreditation service to ensure your promotional material is informative, grammatically correct and easy to understand.








and website editing

Helping you clarify

Customers want clarity. So if you’re making the effort to write your leaflets, forms, websites and legal agreements in plain language, why not let your customers know?

Displaying the Clear English Standard helps you do this. It shows that your documents have passed a rigorous check of clarity, grammar and layout by experts in the field. The Clear English Standard also gives you a competitive edge and a public-relations boost by reassuring customers that you’ve taken extra care to be clear.
More than 17,000 documents carry the Clear 
English Standard, which has appeared more 
than 200 million printed items. One 
accredited document has gone to every 
UK household – probably the widest 
distribution of an accredited plain-language document anywhere in the world.
Many organizations have gained the Clear English Standard for their major public documents. They include Lloyds Bank, Local Government Ombudsman, Financial Services Compensation Scheme, B&CE, Co-ownership Housing, Places For People, the Insolvency Service, Zurich, Dencover, the Scottish Government, Radian, and East Durham Homes.

What are the next steps?

  • Email your draft document to us in Word (preferably) or PDF. Tell us whether you want a no-obligation estimate or whether you’re happy to accept the charges shown under Cost. (Alternatively, use the ‘Document accreditation: request’ form below.)

  • We’ll return the draft with detailed editing suggestions, usually shown in track changes if it’s a Word document. We aim to return these initial edits in three to five working days. If you need them sooner, please tell us. We normally invoice soon after sending our first edits. 

  • You incorporate the suggestions you can accept and send us a new Word document or designer’s PDF. We’ll offer any further suggestions, usually within two days. 

  • Assuming the document now meets the criteria, we’ll award the Clear English Standard. We’ll email you the logo and provide an accreditation number (your licence to use the symbol on that edition of the document).

What are the accreditation criteria? 

The simple answer is that the document should be in plain English, but what exactly does this mean? The Oxford Guide to Plain English describes plain English as: ‘The writing and setting out of essential information in a way that gives a co-operative, motivated person a good chance of understanding the document at first reading, and in the same sense that the writer meant it to be understood.’

So plain language is not an absolute: what is plain to scientists may be obscure to lay people. It’s inevitable that some documents use technical language but, where possible, they should give explanations. We can accredit a difficult text if we feel it could not be put more simply without verbosity or loss of meaning. Hence we do not expect all documents to be equally plain to everybody, though they should always be right for the intended audience.

We take account of layout too, because clear writing and good structure need to be complemented by good use of type, white space etc. 

No document will ever be perfect, but to win the right to display the Standard it should meet the criteria indicated by the following questions.

Read here


Our clear pricing structure means you always know our maximum charge at the outset. We’ll normally invoice you when we send our initial edits. We charge the rates in the table (+ VAT), with the variations shown on the next page.
Length of document Cost
500 words or fewer £150
501 – 1,000 words £250
1,001 – 2,000 words £350
2,001 – 3,000 words £450
3,001 – 4,000 words £550
4,001 – 5,000 words £650
5,001 – 6,000 words £750
6,001 – 7,000 words £850
7,001 – 8,000 words £950
8,001 – 9,500 words £1,100
We charge for documents longer than this by individual quotation. Usually the longer the document, the lower the rate per 1,000 words. Please ask us for a quotation.


for using the Clear English Standard symbol (1 Aug 2011, with minor updates on 27 Oct 2016)

1 Definitions
In these conditions, ‘we’ means Plain Language Commission, a trading name of ltd; ‘you’ means the organization applying to use the print version of the Clear English Standard; and ‘symbol’ means the Clear English Standard.

2 Acceptance of conditions
These are the only conditions under which the symbol may be used, but we may vary them in writing. By using the scheme, you are agreeing to accept and be bound by the conditions.

3 Use of the symbol on one edition
Once we authorize your use of the symbol, you may use it in accordance with these conditions on one edition of the document concerned.

4 Ownership of the symbol
The symbol artwork, electronic file and all reproductions of it remain our property.  

5 Reproduction of the symbol
Size: The symbol may be reproduced at any size from 22–54mm diameter. We suggest the following sizes:

For A5 documents, 24mm.
For A4 documents, 30mm.
Colour: The symbol should be reproduced in black on a white background unless a coloured paper is being used. If black is not available, the darkest colour should be used against a white background. The symbol should not be reproduced in negative (‘reversed out’).

Position: The symbol must be at least 8mm from all page edges, and at least 8mm clear of any other text and graphics. If these restrictions cause you any difficulty, please contact us.

6 Printed copies of accredited documents
Normally we keep only an electronic version of each accredited document on file. However, within three months of it being printed we may ask you to send us three printed copies for our records and, if we do, you must send them if it's available as a printed document.

7 Alterations to accredited documents
When you wish to alter a document carrying the symbol, you must get our permission to continue using the symbol (unless the alterations are trivial). We will never unreasonably refuse permission. We will check the alterations and may suggest amendments. If less than half an hour’s work is needed, we won’t make a charge. Otherwise we’ll charge £80/hr + VAT.

8 Legal liability; status of our editorial advice
You agree we have no legal liability for an accredited document’s contents or any legal consequences arising from them or from your use of the symbol. You agree to indemnify us (protect us against loss) in the event of any legal action arising from the document or from your use of the symbol. Our editorial service is purely advisory on all matters. We do not give legal or technical advice and we are not lawyers. You should satisfy yourself that the accredited document fulfils all its intended purposes, including legal purposes.

How to display the logo

Full details about displaying the logo are given in our Conditions, but here are the main points:

  • The permitted range of sizes is 22–54mm, with exceptions by prior agreement.

  • The Clear English Standard must be printed in the darkest colour available. It must never be ‘reversed out’ – but the black areas may be altered to your preferred colour.

  • There should be at least 8mm of free space between the Clear English Standard and other printed matter, logos etc.

Document accreditation: request for no-obligation estimate. 

Contact Us

Our document accreditation services aim to make your written material clear, concise and free from grammatical errors. For more details, drop us an email to 

Contact us
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