Frequently asked questions about the Crystal Mark

In 1990 we introduced our seal of approval - the Crystal Mark - to encourage organisations to communicate clearly with the public.

The first mark of its kind, the Crystal Mark is now used by over 1600 organisations who want to provide the clearest possible information. We will not give the Crystal Mark to any document unless the intended audience can understand and act on it.

You can view a list of organisations which currently have a Crystal Mark on one or more of their documents.

The mark appears on over 21,000 documents, including those from other countries such as the USA, Australia and South Africa.


What we look for

Things we look for include:

  • a good average sentence length (about 15 to 20 words)
  • plenty of 'active' verbs (instead of 'passive' ones)
  • everyday English
  • words like 'we' and 'you' instead of 'the insured', 'the applicant', 'the society' and so on
  • conciseness
  • clear, helpful headings with consistent and suitable ways of making them stand out from the text
  • a good typesize and clear typeface
  • plenty of answer space and a logical flow (on forms).

How to apply for the Crystal Mark

Simply send us a copy of the document. You can either post it to us (PO Box 3, New Mills, High Peak, SK22 4QP), send it by fax (01663 747038) or send it by e-mail (info@plainenglish.co.uk). Please let us know before sending very large files by e-mail.

We will then assess your document and send you an editing estimate if it doesn't meet our standards. We can sign any confidentiality agreements needed - we often deal with documents that are not yet available to the public.

It is impossible to give an estimate before we see the document, but the price is based on the size and complexity of the document. The costs are higher if you want us to use our accountant or barrister, but don't forget the price is reduced for corporate members.

If you are sending a Microsoft Word document, we may be able to send you the file back in electronic form with our changes highlighted. There is a small fee for this. Please let us know if you may be interested in this option so that we can include this in your estimate.

If you do not hear back from us within 24 hours (or three days if you have sent the document by post), please let us know straight away.

The initial assessment and estimate are both free. You do not have to use our editing service to gain the Crystal Mark, but the final document must pass our assessment.

Once your document reaches the standard (whether or not we have edited it), you can use the Crystal Mark for a one-off fee of £500. This includes:

  • the costs of our assessment and any testing or analysis that needs to be carried out
  • us providing you with the Crystal Mark logo as camera-ready artwork
  • a listing on our Crystal Mark holders' page and a link to your website
  • our help and support if a customer questions the clarity of a document with the Crystal Mark.

The £500 fee does not apply to corporate members. They can have a free Crystal Mark for every document that reaches the standard.


What if I have something that isn't a standard document?

We have an 'Approved by' logo for products such as magazines, long books and computer software.


Can I get a Crystal Mark for a website?

We have a special scheme for websites - the Internet Crystal Mark logo. Nearly 100 websites now display this logo.


Are there any conditions for using the Crystal Mark?

The Crystal Mark conditions section contains a list of conditions covering the use of the Crystal Mark on a document, including the minimum size it can be displayed at.


More details

If you want further details on the Crystal Mark, please phone us on 01663 744409 or e-mail us. Please include a mailing address and ask for our Crystal Mark brochure.

We have a full list of Crystal Mark holders.

You may also be interested in our Honesty Mark scheme.

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