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
Research and journals

Plain language: the underlying research

This paper looks at the assumptions made about what makes good plain language, and then tests these assumptions against the findings of existing research. An excellent presentation that helps to develop a research understanding of plain language.

Published: 2011

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Research and journals

Working with lawyers on your projects

This article is full of handy tips on dealing with lawyers who are resistant to using plain language. Specifically, it looks at what you need to know about lawyers' work, what research says about the 'lawyerly persona' and ways to work more effectively with lawyers.

Keywords: lawyers, lawyerly persona, collaboration

Published: 2011

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Research and journals

Teaching judgment writing in Canada

This article looks at how the Canadian judicial system recognised the need for clear judgments and developed a writing course designed for judges. The articles outlines elements of the course, the teaching methods used, and the success of the program.

Keywords: judges, training, judgments, Canada

Published: 2011

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Research and journals

Developing legal rights information: Collaborating with external legal advisors

This article looks at the role of community legal organisations in producing legally accurate, plain language documents. It discusses the involvement of external organisations in helping organisations to decide on projects, apply plain language and determine legal accuracy of information.

Keywords: community legal education, legal accuracy, collaboration

Published: 2011

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Research and journals

A 'four minds' approach to editing creates clarity

This articles suggests that the most effective method of plain language editing in the 'four minds' approach. That is, approaching documents from four different perspectives. The article also outlines the steps taken by the author to complete a plain language edit of a complex building contract.

Keywords: editing, 'four minds approach'

Published: 2011

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Research and journals

The European Commission's clear writing campaign

This article looks at the European Commission's clear writing campaign 'Fight the Fog.' It explains the campaign, noting the challenges that arise from multilingualism and how the campaign is addressing those problems.

Keywords: European Commission, clear writing, multilingualism

Published: 2011

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Research and journals

Japan's project to simplify courtroom language

This article recounts the introduction of the lay judge system in Japan. The article details the development of the system which involved rewording legal terms in order to make them clearer for people from non-legal backgrounds.

Keywords: lay judge, Japan, rewording

Published: 2011

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Research and journals

Clarity: an empathetic journey towards understanding

This article discusses the role of empathy in ensuring that information is provided with clarity. The article discusses the roles that good information design and plain language have to play in ensuring clear communication.

Keywords: empathy, plain language, information design, understanding

Published: 2011

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Research and journals

Multidisciplinary project: Plain language writers, designers, usability experts and lawyers put their heads together

This article details the outcomes of a Clarity project that involved professionals from different backgrounds collaborating to simplify information using plain language. The projects included World of Warcraft terms of service, South African Gautrain disclaimer clause, Gibson Sheat Lawyers Standard Terms of Engagement and Chase Credit Card Agreement.

Keywords: simplify, projects, terms of service, disclaimer clause, terms of engagement, agreement

Published: 2011

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Research and journals

Information about medicines: legal and visual arguments

This article identifies and discusses the problems faced by the medicinal and pharmaceutical industry with communicating in plain language. The article argues that packaging and leaflets for pharmaceutical products should be considered from a plain language perspective.

Keywords: medicine, packaging, leaflets

Published: 2011

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Research and journals

Defining plain language

This article discusses different ways of, and the problems associated with, trying to define the term 'plain language'. The article analyzes a variety of different approaches including numerical formulas, element -focused, and outcome-focused definitions. The article also provides examples of current definitions from organisations across the globe.

Keywords: plain language definition, numerical definition, element-focused definition, outcome-focused definition

Published: 2010

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Setting plain language standards

This article explores the idea of creating plain language standards. It identifies and discusses a series of recommendations for creating plain language standards including how to define 'standards', deciding how standards will be used, deciding the form of a standard and creating committees to pursue the work.

Keywords: plain language standards, elements-based standards, outcomes-based standards

Published: 2010

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Research and journals

Training for plain language

This article provides a series of handy tips for plain language training. It covers what plain language practitioners should know, a discussion of current training programs, how to decide on a program, how to finance the training and tips for expanding the program.

Keywords: training programs, existing programs, finance, expansion

Published: 2010

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Research and journals

Grounding plain language in research

This article looks at the role of research in the plain language movement. It looks the usefulness of research, the nature of plain language research, problems with current research techniques and steps for promoting new research.

Keywords: research

Published: 2010

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Research and journals

Advocating plain language

This article discusses how to best promote plain language. It includes discussions on the role of institutions and advocacy on an international level.

Keywords: international advocacy

Published: 2010

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This page was last updated on August 17, 2016