Writing for a living is a pretty nice job to have. You get to be creative and help people communicate better. You can even start to shape the culture of organisations by changing the language they use.

But there’s one bit of copywriting that’s often misunderstood. It’s the skill involved in taking complex ideas and expressing them simply and clearly. If what comes out is easy to follow, people sometimes think the whole thing is a doddle. But they often don’t see the starting point. Or how much work went into digesting the message, distilling it down to its essential parts, and then putting this into clear, natural language.

And my goodness, we’ve worked on some doozies! Terms and conditions, for example. The trick is to make sure you still get across the importance of the message, but in an accessible way. We know full well that most T&Cs are far from simple. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to write them so that your average Joe can understand what he’s getting into before he signs on the dotted line.

Take the time we helped Haven Holidays cut their 6500 words of T&Cs (in a teeny tiny font) by a third and turn them into clear and precise writing. That’s a big difference when you’re checking the fine print before you book your holiday.

It’s not just about the legal stuff, either. The hardest page on a website to write is the About us page. That’s where you have to capture the essence of a company – its values, what it does, its personality – and communicate it to the reader in seconds. You can only get to the simple with a huge amount of knowledge about the company, and a lot of sifting, sorting and wordcraft. Sound simple? It’s not.

Here’s a little video of me talking about just this. Why simple is so important, and why it’s so hard to do. Simples.