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Welcome to Plain Language Book Club

Stack of books that say "Plain Language Book Club"

“Are you trying to change people’s behavior? Make sure you mention how even small changes can bring benefits that are important to your reader.”

Plain Language: Clear and Simple, page 7

Bite-size homework: This week, can you tell readers about the benefits of taking action?

Editors, a lot of the elements of plain language are things you already know.

You may think of them as common sense.

Headings. Clear organization. Considering the audience.

Maybe journalism experience taught you to organize a text with the important ideas first. We learned some of these ideas so long ago it’s hard to remember.

So one of my book club goals — for myself and you — is to feel like we can confidently say, “I know what plain language is and how to apply it to my editing work.” You are already using many of these ideas!

Plain language resources help us make the connection between our common sense edits and the goal of including more readers. These books gather various tools and techniques into a practice supported by a community and shared language.

Having more language to describe the work we do helps us:

  • Describe the value our editing adds in broader terms
  • Advocate for readers who need plain language support
  • Find other editors who are excited about doing this kind of editing

The other big goal of the book club is to learn additional tools and strategies.

I’ll be highlighting some brief sections of the readings, like the quote above, in blog posts and emails to registered book club attendees. And I’d love to hear what you’re learning about writing clearly and to include more readers. I want you to feel comfortable jumping in to the discussion, whether or not you have time to read the whole 48-page document and attend the book club on Sept. 28, 2022.

If you’re ready to explore the first book club reading…

Here’s the link to download the free PDF (scroll down).

P.S. The link to the text is about two-thirds of the way into the blog post I’ve linked to. Instead of linking directly to the Plain Language: Clear and Simple PDF, I link to editor Iva Cheung’s blog post about her work preserving and sharing the document. I want her and her collaborators to get credit for making it available!

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