Plain Language Standard

Criteria and assessors

The WriteMark assessment questions are based on internationally-recognised plain language criteria.


The WriteMark criteria were developed from rigorous research and testing. They’ve been used to assess hundreds of documents and webpages.

When your content meets the criteria, it is much more likely to connect with its intended audience, get the results you want, and enhance your reputation.

The WriteMark assessors are expert in all aspects of clear communication. They have extensive experience in applying plain language to different types of content for diverse audiences.

Understand the criteria

To achieve the WriteMark, your document or web content must meet 28 elements in five areas.


The structure must be clear and logical to the intended readers. The headings must be informative and signpost main messages. The purpose must be clear up front.


The content must support the purpose, be relevant, accurate, and likely to answer readers’ questions. Any graphics and visuals must add value.


The language must be clear and easy to read and absorb, with short and straightforward sentences, precise and familiar words, and a reader-friendly tone. Any jargon, legalese, or technical terms must be explained.

Grammar, proofreading, and style

Grammar, proofreading, and style must be applied consistently and soundly to create error-free content. The content must follow any relevant writing, style, or brand guidelines.

Layout and overall presentation

The layout and presentation must support readability with plenty of white space, visual contrast, readable fonts, and good use of colour and other visual elements.

WriteMark Plus criteria

Along with the expert written review of a document or web content, the WriteMark Plus criteria includes user testing with readers using established comprehension and feedback protocols.

Learn about the assessors

WriteMark uses plain language consultants from Write Limited as its accredited assessors. The assessors have extensive experience with the full spectrum of content types from across the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors.

Two of New Zealand’s most respected leaders in plain language oversee the assessments.

Anne-Marie Chisnall

Image, Anne-Marie Chisnall, WriteMark assessor.

Lynda Harris

Image, Lynda Harris, WriteMark assessor.

  • Creator of the WriteMark
  • Founder and Chief Executive of Write Limited
  • Member of the International Plain Language Working Group and of Clarity International
  • Winner of the Christine Mowat Plain Language Achievement Award in 2015
  • Speaker at international plain language conferences