Plain language in the news headlines
Plain English tips for writing well
1. Put the needs of your readers before your own preferences.
2. Clearly state your main message and don’t bury it in detail.
3. Structure your text to place the most important information first.
4. Pay attention to design and layout as well as to the language.
5. Use a formal but friendly tone in workplace writing.
6. Use short, familiar words, rather than long words to sound impressive.
7. Prefer the active to the passive voice.
8. Be ruthless on clutter — remove words and details that add little value.
9. Use sentences which average 15−20 words, and vary them to be between 10 and 35 words.
10. Check for errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation.
Dr Plain English on air
Interested in plain English and politics? How finance-speak hides a multitude of sins? Why consumers have the right to know what they're signing up for?
Dr Neil James is the foundation's media commentator. He speaks regularly on ABC Radio on language issues from artspeak to stupid warning labels.
Dr Plain English in print
Dr Neil James explores both the serious and the light side of communication.
Writing at Work
A manual for effective, clear, professional writing.
In every workplace, even the best ideas can fail if you can’t communicate them effectively. Writing at Work, by Neil James, has been road-tested in our writing skills workshops with professionals from government and law, business and finance, engineering and IT. It’s a practical guide for anyone who needs to get it right the first time, whether they’re writing submissions, reports, letters, emails or memos.
When exactly did we all become ‘stakeholders seeking to leverage our paradigms to achieve best-practice scenarios moving forward’?
Modern Manglish by Neil James and Harold Scruby, illustrated by cartoonist Alan Moir, explores the world of linguistic traps. It exposes the latest Manglish in serially offending professions such as politics, business, and the law — all contenders for the Manglish crown. Mixed metaphors and mispronunciation, euphemisms, tautologies, and jargon ... ranging from sports talk to silly signs, and food speak to fancy-pants job titles.