Plain language resources

Drawing together the best plain language resources from Australia and overseas into one location – research, guidelines and practical advice.

The foundation's list of plain language resources is broken up into activities to help you find what you are looking for. Search for a particular topic by keyword or filter by activity. The resources include a range of historical materials that were influential in the development of plain language, particularly in Australia.

Please note that, apart from Victoria Law Foundation resources, all resources are held on external websites.

We have developed a guide on how we have grouped the resources to make it easier for you to use them.

549 resources
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Essential writing tools
Legal writing

Legal glossary

Developed in consultation with lawyers and law dictionary editors, this plain language glossary explains more than 450 common legal terms.

Legal professionals can use it in their work with clients and members of the public.

Published: 2015

Research and journals

Reconciling the needs for legal accuracy with a commitment to plain language

Presentation at the PLAIN 2015 conference. The presentation explored how you can negotiate with lawyers and other specialists on reference groups set up to ensure the accuracy of your publication. It covered why to use reference groups, how to set them up and what’s involved in translating legalese into plain language. It showed that you can reconcile the need for accuracy with a commitment to plain language.

Published: 2015

Research and journals

Best practice guidelines for community legal education

Presentation at the PLAIN 2015 conference. This session focused on best practice guidelines for the development and maintenance of online community legal information developed by the Victorian Legal Assistance Forum. The use of search engines to find information can lead the user to incorrect or irrelevant information that is unlikely to assist. Even when relevant websites are located many are too complicated, poorly structured and don’t meet plain language guidelines. The guidelines were developed to help address these issues.

Published: 2015

Research and journals

Caught in the web – young people and the internet

A summary of research into how young people use the internet to solve legal problems and the challenges they face.

The research was undertaken by Dr Catrina Denvir from the University College London Faculty of Law. The article contains a link to a PowerPoint presentation provided by Dr Denvir.

Published: 2014

Research and journals

A competition

This article is a prize winning submission from Robert Eagleson in which he analyses a lease.

Republished in number 71, September 2014.

Keywords: lease, corrections, Robert Eagleson

Published: 2014

Research and journals

Meeting the information needs of litigants in person

A report on research undertaken by Law for Life's Advicenow project that examines the legal information needs of litigants in person (self-represented litigants) in England and Wales.

The report provides useful information for anyone involved in writing information about the law that may be used by litigants in person. The report focuses on information notes, guides and leaflets, but the principles it outlines will also be useful for all standard forms of communication aimed at litigants in person, including court forms.

Published: 2014

Organisations

Plain Language Association International (PLAIN)

Plain Language Association International (PLAIN) is the international association for plain language supporters and practitioners that promotes clear communication in any language. Their growing network includes plain language advocates, professionals and organisations. PLAIN organises an international conference every two years. PLAIN is a membership organisation.

Published: 2014

Organisations

Victoria Law Foundation

Victoria Law Foundation aims to help Victorians understand the law and use it to improve their lives. It produces plain language publications, delivers education programs and advocates for the use of plain language in the law.

Published: 2014

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Research and journals

Teaching plain language through editing

This articles looks at how a Swedish language agency teaches and promotes plain language. Specifically, the article offers suggestions about teaching plain language including empowering the writer, explaining changes and providing the right support.

Keywords: Sweden, training, teaching, editing

Published: 2013

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Research and journals

Case study: Comparison of plain language teaching for two non-native English-speaking professional groups: lawyers & engineers

This article looks at two different plain language teaching courses; one for lawyers and one for engineers. It details and compares each of the programs, noting the differences in student responsiveness and teaching approaches.

Keywords: teaching, training, non-native English, lawyers, engineers

Published: 2013

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Research and journals

Teaching grammar without scaring people

This article looks at how to teach grammar in a non-threatening, approachable way. It details how the differences between active and passive voice, dependent and independent clauses and nominalisations can be taught to individuals who may not have a firm understanding of grammar.

Keywords: grammar, teaching, training

Published: 2013

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Research and journals

We follow Aristotle

This article looks at effective plain language coaching. Borrowing from Aristotle, it outlines and details a three step process for good coaching; goals, means and adaptability.

Keywords: Aristotle, teaching, training, coaching

Published: 2013

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Research and journals

A "Show, don't Tell" lesson on plain language

This article looks at the benefits of showing, rather than just telling students how to use plain language. The article includes helpful tips and examples of materials that demonstrate how plain language can be used.

Keywords: teaching, training, students, university

Published: 2013

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Research and journals

Teaching plain language drafting in a legislative and administrative advocacy clinic

This article discusses the various elements of a plain language drafting course delivered at The Public Law Centre in the USA.

Keywords: legislative drafting

Published: 2013

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Research and journals

Visual clarity in contract drafting

This article discusses the concept of visual clarity and importance of visual aids in plain language. It provides a helpful discussion of how and why visual clarity is so effective, and what writers can do to incorporate visual clarity in their writing.

Keywords: visual clarity, drafting

Published: 2013

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Research and journals

Lessons from the workshop trenches: Challenges in teaching plain-language writing to health professionals

This article discusses the challenges that health professionals face when communicating clearly with patients. It explores a plain language program directed at health professionals that aims to improve their communication with patients.

Keywords: health, healthcare, communication, training, teaching

Published: 2013

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Research and journals

Clearer words, clearer justice

This article looks at student engagement in plain language courses in Mexico. Specifically, it details the challenges in getting students to make the shift to plain language, and the potential benefits to the justice system should this shift occur.

Keywords: Mexico, justice system, students, university

Published: 2013

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This page was last updated on August 17, 2016