Writing in Plain Language
Writing in plain language does not mean “dumbing down” a text: it means conveying information in a way that intended readers can easily understand. And yet much of modern business and government writing is anything but easily understood. The culprits?
- Abstractions that reduce clarity
- Long subjects that contribute to denseness
- Passive voice that hides doers of actions
- Weak verbs that cut energy
- Jargon and acronyms that confuse readers
- Poor document design that clouds messages
And these are just a handful of the problems.
This one-day course will give you ample hands-on practice clarifying dense, bureaucratic texts. With your peers and the instructor, you will analyze several unclear passages in detail and examine ways to improve these passages. You’ll then have the opportunity to re-craft texts yourself, applying plain-language principles to clarify the intended messages. This course assumes that you have a solid understanding of English grammar, punctuation, and style.
Understanding what plain language is… and what it isn’t
Determining the characteristics of plain language
Developing a “plain-language” attitude
Applying plain-language techniques - Making subjects of sentences short, specific, and concrete
Energizing your sentences with strong verbs
Weeding out clutter
Avoiding noun strings
Using terms consistently
Employing passive voice appropriately
Choosing the right vocabulary
- Business, government, or technical professionals who sincerely want to be understood by their audiences
- Anyone looking to engage readers and communicate easily and clearly
- Managers looking to offer practical writing advice to their staffs
Graham Young, MBA, is an independent writer, editor, and consultant with more than 30 years’ experience in business and government communications. He has delivered some 600 business writing and presentation skills workshops since 2000 and taught Business English at the University of Ottawa. His lively, informative professional-development workshops instruct participants how to communicate effectively on the job. In addition to his teaching experience, Graham also has a Teachers and Trainers of Adults certificate.
‘’One of the most entertaining workshops.’’
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