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.

595 resources
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Research and journals

Rewriting the Income Tax Act

This article summarises the recommendations of the New Zealand Income Tax Act of 1994 to be more comprehensible. The author discusses the differences between the old Act (1994) and the aims of the new Act (2004), for example orderly groupings, slimming down sections and familiar cross-referencing.

Keywords: New Zealand, Income Tax Act, rewriting

Published: 2004

Clarity
Research and journals

Plain language and law graduates in New Zealand

Clarity, no. 52, p. 29

This article identifies the challenges faced by law graduates as they transition from university and academic writing styles to workplace and non-acedemic writing styles. The article summarises a course that aims to bridge the gap between university and work by teaching student planning, drafting and revising techniques.

Keywords: law students, university, writing styles, planning, drafting, revising

Published: 2004

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Research and journals

O ate 2 of Jill'r pairs

This article questions some of the arguments put forth in previous versions of Clarity. The author argues that some language conventions should remain how they are, for example, the use of words for numbers rather than symbols.

Keywords: numbers, words, language conventions

Published: 2004

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Research and journals

Plain language in mexico

This article is an interview between Jesus Mesta, Deputy Secretary of Public Administration and Carlos Valdovinos, General Director for Better Regulation, who are both leaders of the plain language movement in Mexico.

Keywords: Mexico, interview, Agenda for Good Government

Published: 2004

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Research and journals

Legal writing: some tools

This article argues that legal writing is still relevant in today's electronic age, as technology cannot be replied on to ensure communication is clear, concise or logically organised. The author argues that it is a necessity not a luxury for those writing legal documents to be understood.

Keywords: legal writing, tips, communication

Published: 2004

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Research and journals

Tudor drafting

This article summarises the drafting of bill in 1542 which provided that the Queen of the time, being Catherine Howard, be convicted and attained of high treason. The author analyses the four brief sentences that made up the act.

Keywords: King Henry VIII, Queen of England

Published: 2004

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Research and journals

Dear Tony: a lesson in plain English

This article discusses the letter of resignation of the International Development Secretary to Tony Blair's government in 2003, which was written in plain English. The author highlights the style techniques which make the letter persuadable and effective, such as the humanized and personal nature and the use of an active voice.

Keywords: letter of resignation, active voice, Clare Short

Published: 2004

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Research and journals

Compliance v communication

This article discusses the United State's Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 2003, notably its requirement that notices be written in plain English despite there not being any penalties for non-compliance. The author highlights the conflict the HIPAA writers face as they are caught between the wording advised by lawyers and their need to be use plain English.

Keywords: United States, Health Insurance, readability, non-compliance, informed consent,

Published: 2003

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Research and journals

Words at work: a study

This article discusses the study conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms who revised advertising and the labeling of a beer. The study indicated that the participants from three groups, beer industry insiders, related industry and non-industry participants, rated the plain language version higher than the original, particularly as the number of words used in the advertising grew.

Keywords: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, study, brand names

Published: 2003

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Research and journals

How do the courts interpret commercial contracts

This article suggest that commercial contracts, being the most common type of contract litigated, should not interpreted purely by interpreting its wording alone. Four reasons are listed, namely to ensure fairness, predictability, to save time and money and to ensure legal backing in judgments. The paper also discusses the intentions of the parties, surrounding circumstances, unreasonable results and market practices.

Keywords: commercial contracts, interpretation

Published: 2003

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Research and journals

Hereby

This article discusses the use of the word 'hereby' in legal writing. The author suggests that though 'hereby' is not obsolete, it is overused, which when combined with unfamiliarity has lead to a general condemnation of the word.

Keywords: hereby, legalese

Published: 2003

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This page was last updated on August 17, 2016