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

Strong, cautious support: Clarity's position on standards and accreditation

This article is a plenary paper from the PLAIN Amsterdam Conference. It outlines Clarity (past) President's support for a standards and accreditation on plain language. The author list areas which need caution, such as assessing effect not form, how standards might differ between audiences and credibility issues.

Keywords: plenary paper, conference, standards, accreditation

Published: 2008

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Research and journals

The building blocks on Wessel's website: the Amsterdam challenge

This article is a plenary paper from the PLAIN Amsterdam Conference. It explains that plain language is not about 'dumbing down' information but rather an intellectual pursuit. Nine questions, which require further research, are posed.

Keywords: plenary paper, conference, building blocks

Published: 2008

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Certified plain-language consultants already exist in Sweden

This article explains how plain language exists in Sweden through academic programs, plain language courses and a professional association. The author also discusses that there is no need for official certification in Sweden, as the university program works in practice as a type of certification while the Association ensure quality for clients.

Keywords: Sweden, plain language movement, certification

Published: 2008

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Research and journals

What makes a document readable?

This article discusses the constant challenge faced by authors to make their documents readable in order to get their message across to readers. The author focuses on key topics such as addressing the audience, document structure, format and punctuation.

Keywords: readability, structure, format, punctuation

Published: 2007

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Research and journals

Keeping errors in Czech

This article highlights the importance of proofreading documents written by professionals for spelling and grammar errors. The author identifies that simple errors, such as spelling, grammar and punctuation errors, can present a barrier for clients in reading plain language.

Keywords: proofreading, errors

Published: 2007

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Research and journals

Drafting matters - letters of advice

This article compares two approaches to writing a letter of advice, the traditional and the plain language approach, to highlight the importance of clear and plain language when writing to clients.

Republished in number 71, September 2014.

Keywords: letter of advice, traditional drafting, plain language drafting

Published: 2007

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Research and journals

Measuring plain language at the British Columbia Securities Commission

This article explains British Columbia Securities Commission's (BCSC) audit process used for testing performance and measuring employee's commitment to using plain language.

Keywords: British Columbia Securities Commissions, audit process, measuring plain language

Published: 2007

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Research and journals

Learning about plain language through a community development project on adult literacy

This article outlines a project, the Connecting Literacy to Community, which ran from from 2001–2003 in Canada. The project offered plain language workshops for adult literacy practitioners, particularly low-literacy levels.

Keywords: Canada, literacy, adults literacy

Published: 2007

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Research and journals

Opening Speech at the conference for the launch of New Zealand's WriteMark plain English awards

This is a speech delivered at New Zealand's WriteMark plain English awards. The speaker highlights that a vast amount of information available in everyday life, and talks further about how people can cope with the information overload by employing plain language techniques.

Keywords: WriteMark Plain English Awards, speech, Duncan Sarkies

Published: 2007

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Research and journals

Judicial attitudes to plain language and the law

This article is an interview between the author, a law student at the University of Sydney, and Justice Michael Kirby. The author asked Michael Kirby about plain language as a general topic as well as his review of Professors Kimble's book 'Lifting the fog of legalese'.

Keywords: interview, Justice Michael Kirby

Published: 2007

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Research and journals

House style - whose style is it?

This article discusses what a style guide is and highlights things to consider including when creating one. A style guide should be used by an organisation to help staff communicate with clarity, and to promote a consistent and clear image of the organisation.

Keywords: style guide, house style

Published: 2007

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Research and journals

Editing judgments: lessons learned in law reporting

This article identifies the hurdles associated with applying plain language to judgments, such as copyright, the purposes of the judgment, judicial infallibility, the evolutions of language, misquoting, judicial egos and the potential to change judgments. The article goes on to suggest solutions to these hurdles.

Keywords: judgments, editing

Published: 2007

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Research and journals

Punctuation

This article identifies language faults that may arise from using punctuation, such as unnecessarily long and unclear sentences, the altering of the meaning of words and the risk of a typist, editor, printer or publisher doing the same. The author in turn dissects these faults to provide potential solutions.

Keywords: punctuation, drafting

Published: 2007

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Research and journals

A redrafting exercise

This article comprises of three rewrites of a wordy legal document, a Consulting Agreement, in plain language. The writers are law students at the University of Sydney who enrolled in a legal drafting short course.

Keywords: legal drafting, rewriting, agreement

Published: 2007

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Research and journals

Plain language in the Scottish legislation

This article gives the background to the Plain language and legislation booklet, which was released by the Office of Scottish Parliamentary Counsel in 2006. The booklet tells some of the history about the link between plain language and legislation, and also looks at modern legislative styles and techniques.

Keywords: Scotland, Plain language and legislation

Published: 2006

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Research and journals

Plain legal language in the English courts

This article discusses how the language of civil procedures has changed considerably over the past 15 years. The author notes that the changes have occurred from the point of initial contact with the client to court judgments.

Keywords: England, civil procedure, client care letters, judgments

Published: 2006

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Research and journals

Plain English revolution officially announced

This article summarises the first Bill to be written in plain English, titled 'The Coroners Reform Bill'. The article discusses its public and legal reception and its Explanatory Note and also provides an overall conclusion.

Keywords: legislative drafting, Coroners Reform Bill

Published: 2006

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Research and journals

Evolution of an easy-to-understand financial privacy notice

This article discusses the formative research conducted by Kleimann Communication Group Inc. to create a prototype privacy notice. Creating a prototype was necessary because of the tendency for privacy notices to be lengthy, dense and complex.

Keywords: Kleimann Communication Group Inc., privacy notice, prototype

Published: 2006

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This page was last updated on August 17, 2016