Editing for plain English: Weeding out the verbiage

Nature of edit  To edit the text into plain English

Type of copy  Promotional leaflet for tea


To the Customer: This coupon can be used in payment or part payment for Green Tea (any variant) up to a maximum value of 50p. Where the product is priced above 50p, the difference must be paid by you. Only one coupon can be used against each item purchased at participating UK stores only (excluding online) … This coupon cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer and cannot be exchanged for cash.


To the customer: This coupon is worth 50p off any type of Green Tea. If the tea costs more than 50p, you must pay the extra. You can use only one coupon against each pack you buy at participating UK stores. Sorry, but you can't use this coupon online or with any other offer, or exchange it for cash.

Problem and solution

Here's a summary of what the editor changed and why:

  • Removed the upper-case letter from 'Customer' – there's no need for it here.
  • Eradicated passive-voice verbs by rephrasing sentences (in the first one, to remove 'can be used') or by switching to the active-voice verb – 'is priced' to 'costs', 'must be paid' to 'must pay', 'can be used' to 'can use', 'cannot be used' to 'can't use', and 'cannot be exchanged' to 'or exchange'. (Although the passive has its uses, the active voice tends to make writing easier to understand and livelier.)
  • Changed a few long or unusual words to shorter, more common ones – 'variant' to 'type', 'difference' to 'extra', 'purchased' to 'buy', and 'excluding' to 'not'.
  • Contracted 'cannot' to the less formal 'can't, which gives the text a friendlier style.