How To: Style Written Text

Image collage with laptop, smartphone and various documents and the words: accessible to everyone

Most of our Inclusive Language recommendations focus on the people and groups who may be affected by our language: being inclusive, listening to and amplifying their perspectives, and using language to contribute to a fair, open and equitable working environment.


In this section, however, we start from the perspective of Bayer colleagues: our everyday activities, projects, and situations we encounter where we may need to consider language.


On this page, we share three tips for styling written text, using language, structure, format and even appearance to make your written work accessible to everyone. 

Key examples of plain language

We have written elsewhere in this guide about the importance of plain language. Whatever your medium or goal, the principle remains the same: think about your target audience and how best to convey information to them, in a way that is clearly understandable and considers their needs and circumstances.


Typically, this includes using common words, avoiding complex words or sentences where simpler ones will suffice, and removing unnecessary elements.


Some specific examples include:

Instead of: Use:
red circle with x  Adjacent to green circle with check Next to
red circle with x  Amidst green circle with check Amid
red circle with x  Amongst green circle with check Among
red circle with x  Approximately green circle with check  About/around
red circle with x  Attempt green circle with check  Try
red circle with x  Both X and Y green circle with check  X and Y
red circle with x  Commence green circle with check  Start
red circle with x  Eyewitness green circle with check  Witness
red circle with x  If it is the case that green circle with check  If
red circle with x  In order to green circle with check  To
red circle with x  Prior to green circle with check  Before
red circle with x  Purchase green circle with check  Buy
red circle with x  Rather/quite/somewhat good green circle with check  Good
red circle with x  Skyrocket green circle with check  Rocket
red circle with x  The majority of green circle with check  Most
red circle with x  Together with green circle with check  With
red circle with x  Upsurge green circle with check  Surge
red circle with x  Utilize green circle with check  Use
red circle with x  Whilst green circle with check  While

Avoid visual density as well as verbal density

Plain writing does not just refer to word choice – it extends to the overall style and structure of the piece.


Very long paragraphs will form ‘blocks’ of text that make information harder to find quickly. Try to break these up into multiple smaller paragraphs, each of which deals with a separate idea.


Alternatively, you could use visual elements, such as formatting, highlights, quotes, boxes or infographics, to break up the text.


If your text will be read primarily in a digital format, check that it is conducive to screen reading, and that link text is meaningful independently of its context.

Put people first

It is natural to write in your own voice – and, in fact, it is a good thing, since we celebrate the similarities and differences that make us human. When a written work sounds like it comes from a real person, rather than a corporate phrasebook, it is more effective and more likely to deliver on our inclusivity goals.


However, we shouldn’t center ourselves at the expense of other people. At Bayer, we work with a diverse and rich array of people, from all backgrounds, professions and cultures. What could be more engaging and thought-provoking than telling their stories, in their own voices?


To achieve this, we start with the subjects themselves: whose stories we are really telling, and whose opinions and perspectives are supported. Remember, even if the goal of a piece is to promote Bayer in some way, this doesn’t mean it has to be entirely by or about Bayer colleagues. The most effective voice to advocate for our positions often isn’t ours at all. Think about how powerful the stories farmers or researchers tell are, backed up by their lived experience.


In addition, consider the cultural associations with the words you use, particularly metaphors, idioms or other phrases with added cultural meaning. It’s important to understand the historical usage and context behind these, and to ensure this doesn’t have an unintended humiliating or excluding effect on your subject or audience.


To make sure you respect and empower others, when reviewing a written piece, ask yourself:

  • Is this really their story? Or is it my/our story under the guise of being about them?
  • Do we see the whole person, not just a single aspect of them?
  • Are they presented as a victim? Or as someone who is confident and capable to advocate for themselves?
  • Are they given sufficient space in the story to talk on their own terms?
  • Why will people want to read about them? Does this come across enough?





If you have any further questions about this or any other section of Bayer Identity Net, please contact: