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Fall 2022 Plain Language Book Summaries

Stack of books that say "Plain Language Book Club"

September resource: Plain Language: Clear and Simple

  • Free PDF! Provided by editor Iva Cheung and originally published by Supply & Services Canada, 1991
  • Aimed at a general audience
  • Great short introduction to why and how to simplify language while still showing the broad range of topics that relate to plain language
  • Short and well-organized, designed to follow the principles it spells out
  • Lots of good examples.
  • The chapter 8 checklist is a handy tool to remind yourself to think through plain language at every stage of development

The discussion group hoped that our next books talked more about tone and consistency.

October resource: Oxford Guide to Plain Language

  • Aimed at a general audience
  • Another great introduction to why and how to simplify language
  • Well-organized, designed to follow the principles it spells out
  • Lots of good examples made more fun with the author’s British sense of humor and voicey editorializing
  • Much more extensive than the first read at 300+ pages. Includes sections on tone, grammar myths, implementing plain language in an organization, some interesting ideas for copyediting for readers with low literacy, and several word lists that are potentially useful to editors
  • Encourages readability testing but doesn’t cover it in much depth
  • The author mentions being informed by research but doesn’t provide citations for editors to learn more.

Several people in the discussion group plan to keep this around for future reference.

November resource: Plain Language in Plain English

  • Aimed at an audience of editors and writers
  • Includes an extensive discussion of readability testing
  • Useful items in the resources section, including a plain language checklist and a document assessment tool
  • Research is cited to support many of the ideas, and authorities are sometimes quoted to support others. You could definitely dig up more information if you were curious and wanted to form your own opinion.
  • This is a collection of resources gathered to supplement a course. Editor Cheryl Stephens has helped us navigate using clear subheadings in many sections, vertical lists, and some glossaries for sections with specialized vocabulary. However, the book is not intended for a general audience. In my opinion, it is less enjoyable to read or skim than our previous reads, but offers experienced editors more concrete help.

Interested in discussing plain language? Join us for the next book club!

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