Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

Plain language for financial content: Assessing the impact of training on students' revisions and readers' comprehension

Project description

Plain language for financial literacy

In the modern world, as the task of taking financial decisions has been transferred from institutions to individuals, there has been an increasing need for financial literacy, the ability to correctly comprehend financial information, among individuals. As this has been recognised as an issue by the EU, many methods have been considered, one of those being the use of plain text and language. Unfortunately, this method has not had consistent results and there is a lack of empirical evidence on whether it will be useful. The EU-funded PLanTra project will tackle this issue by investigating the impact of plain language training on business students and the comprehensibility of the texts.


With the responsibility for financial decisions shifting from institutions to individuals, the ability to understand financial information (known as ‘financial literacy’) is paramount. Having reduced financial literacy results in higher risk of over-indebtedness, and in reduced ability to manage one’s wealth. Text simplification, involving the use of plain language, is one of the strategies adopted to meet the needs of low-literacy readers. The comprehensibility of financial texts has received attention at the European level. An action plan developed as part of the EU policy on consumer financial services lists opaque terms and conditions among the concerns raised by customers when conducting cross-border shopping. Despite plain language efforts, the comprehensibility of financial content has not been increasing consistently. Scholars have therefore emphasised the need to train business (communication) students in text simplification and provided resources to that end. There is, however, lack of empirical evidence on the benefits (or lack thereof) of plain language training. This project aims to address this research gap by investigating the impact of plain language training on: (i) how financial texts are simplified by business students; and (ii) the resulting comprehensibility of simplified financial texts among lay readers with different levels of financial literacy. To do so, I will conduct two experimental studies. For the first study, focusing on the simplification process, I will use keystroke logging, retrospective interviews, and screen recording. For the second study, dealing with the comprehensibility of financial content, I will use multiple-choice questions. This project can identify simplification-oriented revisions that are implemented by business students and that are beneficial for comprehension of financial content. Ultimately, these findings can guide financial institutions in their efforts to meet the needs of readers with low financial literacy.


Net EU contribution
€ 166 320,00
Prinsstraat 13
2000 Antwerpen

See on map

Vlaams Gewest Prov. Antwerpen Arr. Antwerpen
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00