Pages: [1] 2
Print
Author Topic: Teach yourself how to write and edit using Plain English or Plain Language  (Read 2256 times)
Gerry T. Galacio
Full Member
***

Karma: +0/-0
Posts: 63


View Profile
« on: October 26, 2015, 07:58:47 AM »

You don't have to enroll in an expensive course or seminar to learn how to write and edit using Plain English. I have created 300-plus free interactive exercises (matching-type quizzes and flashcards) and compiled links to numerous Plain English resources (PDF, PPT, infographics, and videos). By using these free exercises and studying these resources, you can learn how to write or edit using Plain English. Please surf to:

Shortcut: http://tinyurl.com/plain-english-self-study

Complete URL: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/263251591/site/plainlanguageexercisesandresources/index.htm

Plain English (also known as Plain Language, Plain Writing, Plain Talk, or Clear Writing) is "writing so that your readers can easily find what they need, understand what they read, and use it to fulfill their needs." For more information on what Plain English or Plain Language is all about, please surf to http://famli.blogspot.com/2011/04/what-is-plain-english-plain-language-or.html

Reasons why you should learn to write and edit using Plain English or Plain Language:

(1) Two Senate bills and two House bills, if they become laws, will require the use of Plain Language for all government communications. These bills were filed by Sen. Grace Poe, Las Pinas Rep. Mark Villar, and Bohol Rep. Rene Relampagos with Camiguin Rep. XJ Romualdo and Paranaque Rep. Eric Olivarez as co-authors.

(2) Using Plain English benefits private businesses. Please read "Cost Benefits and Quality Advantages of Using Plain Language" at http://clearlanguageatwork.com/complimentary-resources/cost-benefit/
« Last Edit: October 28, 2015, 12:45:57 PM by Gerry T. Galacio » Logged
Gerry T. Galacio
Full Member
***

Karma: +0/-0
Posts: 63


View Profile
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2015, 08:03:38 AM »

In the Philippines, we have four pending bills requiring the use of Plain Language in all government communications. These bills are:

(1) Senate Bill No. 1092 "Plain Writing in Public Service Act" filed by Sen. Grace Poe

(2) Section 20 of Senate Bill No. 1733 (Freedom of Information)

(3) House Bill No. 3385 "Plain Writing in Public Service Act" filed by Las Pinas Rep. Mark A. Villar

(4) House Bill No. 3494 "Plain Language Law of 2013" filed by Bohol Rep. Rene Relampagos (co-authored by Camiguin Rep. XJ Romualdo and Paranaque Rep. Eric Olivarez).

Note: Plain English or Plain Language is required for government documents in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and the European Commission. More than 20 member-countries of the Organisation of Economic  Co-operation and Development (OECD) have Plain Language laws.
Logged
Gerry T. Galacio
Full Member
***

Karma: +0/-0
Posts: 63


View Profile
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2015, 08:10:18 AM »

(1) Study the free online courses that I have listed; they're in the right-hand column of my website at http://tinyurl.com/plain-english-self-study/

(2) You can avail of my free seminars:

“Clear, concise English for effective legal writing” (4 hours; for HR officers and staff, NGOs, LGUs, Student Councils, academic organizations, fraternities, sororities, any interested group)

“Plain English, Plain Language, or Plain Writing: overview, guidelines, before and after examples” (4 hours; for any interested group)

Seminars are for Metro Manila only. Your group must provide the venue, LCD projector, sound system, etc.

For more information or to schedule a seminar, please contact Gerry T. Galacio at gtgalacio@yahoo.com or mobile 0927-798-3138

(3) Watch the video "Good news: clarity's a-coming" at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxzU2UH9j_I (you'll learn the Plain English guidelines through song).

(4) Download and print out the PDF files like "15 Top tips in Plain English writing" and others I have listed in my website. Post the printouts in a bulletin board or near your work desk, use them as your mouse pad, etc.

I recommend that you print out and study all the free materials offered by http://www.4syllables.com.au/ (while these materials discuss how to write for the Internet, they are actually Plain English guidelines that can be used for print writing).

The most comprehensive, free resource on Plain English writing is "Toolkit for Making Written Material Clear and Effective" from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. This resource is 700-plus pages and over 50 megabytes. While this material deals with health literacy, you can learn and transfer the writing guidelines discussed to other fields.

(5) Study the free flashcards I have created in my website. The flashcards do not have time limit or automatic scoring. For example, start with the Plain English guidelines from the Asian Development Bank at http://tinyurl.com/adb-flashcards

I have several other flashcards based on various sources including:

a. legislative drafting manuals from the USA and from Hong Kong at http://tinyurl.com/hongkong-flashcards

b. "The Ohio Supreme Court Writing Manual; Commonly Misused Words and Phrases" at http://tinyurl.com/ohio-sc-writing-manual

c. "Gender-Neutral and Gender-Free Language" from British Columbia Securities Commission Plain Language Style Guide at http://tinyurl.com/gender-neutral-language

(6) For the matching-type quizzes in my website, start with those that do not have time limit. For example, try http://tinyurl.com/use-simple-words

Then, work on those exercises with time limit of 1 to 3 minutes. For example, try http://tinyurl.com/avoid-redundancies

 Lastly, work on the exercises with extreme time limit. For example, try http://tinyurl.com/avoid-jargon-wordiness

(7) Try using the "Hemingway app" at http://www.hemingwayapp.com/ (the last time I checked, the app is still free).

One good and free program is "Drivel Defence" from the Plain English Campaign at http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/drivel-defence.html (this program identifies your long sentences and suggests simpler words).

Try using also the free program called Rewordify at http://rewordify.com/ (while the program aims at improving vocabulary and reading comprehension, it can be used as an editing tool).

The best Plain English software commercially available is StyleWriter 4; it is used in government offices, newspapers, banks, law offices, etc. It has US, UK, and Australian English versions. It can check 10,000 words in 12 seconds for thousands of style and English usage issues like passive voice, nominalization, jargon, spelling, wordy, complex, and long sentences, etc.

 Learn more about StyleWriter 4 and how it can help you become better writers or editors at http://tinyurl.com/stylewriter4
« Last Edit: December 23, 2015, 07:26:59 AM by Gerry T. Galacio » Logged
Gerry T. Galacio
Full Member
***

Karma: +0/-0
Posts: 63


View Profile
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2015, 01:11:35 PM »

From "Using Plain English" at http://www.adb.org/publications/using-plain-english

"Many people write too much, bureaucratically, and obscurely. Using plain English will save time in writing, make writing far easier, and improve understanding."
Logged
Gerry T. Galacio
Full Member
***

Karma: +0/-0
Posts: 63


View Profile
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2015, 12:22:58 PM »

"How to write in Plain English" at https://youtu.be/mwMlzFSd8OM

"Introduction To Plain Language" by the Office of Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith at https://youtube.com/WM9Jt4VjFrA
Logged
Gerry T. Galacio
Full Member
***

Karma: +0/-0
Posts: 63


View Profile
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2015, 12:38:39 PM »

From http://www.human-communications.com/blog/business-writing-trends-continued-spread-plain-english

" ... OCBC Bank in Singapore saw sales revenue from its wealth-management products grow after it introduced clear and easy-to-understand marketing brochures."
Logged
Gerry T. Galacio
Full Member
***

Karma: +0/-0
Posts: 63


View Profile
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2015, 01:54:47 PM »

By Simon Caulkin (May 2011)  at http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/40006faa-701c-11e0-bea7-00144feabdc0.html

"Why is the language of management so contorted? Why does so much of it seem to be about concealing meaning, rather than revealing it?"

"Why is straight talk in business so difficult? Plain words and simple messages are only possible when organisations have their goals, values and behaviour in register. Such companies are comfortable with themselves, their relationship with their customers and their role in society."
Logged
Gerry T. Galacio
Full Member
***

Karma: +0/-0
Posts: 63


View Profile
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2015, 10:14:24 AM »

From Simply Put, National Adult Literacy Agency (February 2015; 1.78 MB file size) at http://www.simplyput.ie/news-and-events/plain-english-infographic/

"In this infographic, find out about the plain English movement around the world as well as about the many benefits of using plain English."
Logged
Gerry T. Galacio
Full Member
***

Karma: +0/-0
Posts: 63


View Profile
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2015, 06:59:23 AM »

From https://www.fundstrategy.co.uk/investment-association-industry-must-speak-in-plain-english/

"The FCA is calling for smarter consumer communications, encouraging the industry to write 'for the consumer first and then ensure communications are compliant, rather than the other way round'. This view makes sense and consultants, such as Oxera, have made the point that disclosure is academic if it is not read and understood by the customer.

"With millions more people coming into contact with investment managers, due to the ongoing pension changes, it’s crucial that the industry is able to speak in plain English. Improvements are certainly happening – with due care and attention."
Logged
Gerry T. Galacio
Full Member
***

Karma: +0/-0
Posts: 63


View Profile
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2015, 11:26:20 AM »

From http://www.boardmatchireland.ie/uncategorized/plain-english-is-needed-for-good-governance/

"Plain English is a key part of effective and responsible governance. Using plain English reassures the public and funders that their money is being managed by a well run organisation. Plain English makes information easy and accessible for all of us, but particularly for the 1 in 4 Irish adults who have literacy and numeracy difficulties. It is a style of presenting information so that a person can understand it the first time they read or hear it."

Note: Boardmatch Ireland is the National Corporate Governance Charity in Ireland, working to improve governance in the not-for-profit sector by strengthening boards and management committees.
Logged
Gerry T. Galacio
Full Member
***

Karma: +0/-0
Posts: 63


View Profile
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2015, 11:28:39 AM »

From "Legal Luminary Calls For Constitutional Reform To Ensure More Perfect Union, Good Governance And Deeper Democratization" (September 2014) at http://www.winnfm.com/news/local/9809-legal-luminary-calls-for-constitutional-reform-to-ensure-more-perfect-union-good-governance-and-deeper-democratization

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN):  A new call is being made for constitutional reform in St. Kitts and Nevis.

Justice Selwyn Walters, guest speaker at this year's Prime Minister’s Independence Lecture, in making the call for constitutional reform says the amendments should be written in plain language so that the average person can understand it. 

"'When writing our Constitution, we should write it in plain English, so that the people can understand its provisions.  There is no convention that requires that we write a Constitution in legalisms and perplexing references and cross references...let us do it for the common man and woman."
Logged
Gerry T. Galacio
Full Member
***

Karma: +0/-0
Posts: 63


View Profile
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2015, 11:26:06 AM »

From “How Plain English Works for Business: Twelve Case Studies” by the Office of Consumer Affairs, US Department of Commerce (March 1984) at http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED277033.pdf

Some of the companies in this study are Citibank, N. A., Home Owners Warranty Corporation, and J. C. Penny Company. The study said that using plain English improved their corporate image and competitive position, as well as streamlined their procedures, eliminated unnecessary forms, and reduced customer complaints.
Logged
Gerry T. Galacio
Full Member
***

Karma: +0/-0
Posts: 63


View Profile
« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2015, 01:01:15 PM »

(1) From "Three ways to write like Warren Buffett" by Ian Harris, Management Today ( February 2015) at http://www.managementtoday.co.uk/news/1334430/three-ways-write-warren-buffett/

"Senior leaders often tell me that they have to use long words and business jargon - it’s expected of them.

"But what’s interesting is if you study Warren Buffett’s writing over 50 years, there’s a correlation between success and simplicity. Basically, the richer he becomes the simpler his writing."

"How to Write Like Warren Buffett" by Ian Harris

(a) Free book at http://internal-communication.com/buffett

(b) YouTube video at https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bZ1U4hEPAxI

(2) Buffett endorsed the use of Plain English in the preface to the US Securities and Exchange Commission's "Plain English Handbook: How to create clear disclosure documents " (1998). He wrote:

“Write with a specific person in mind. When writing Berkshire Hathaway's annual report, I pretend that I'm talking to my sisters. I have no trouble picturing them: Though highly intelligent, they are not experts in accounting or finance. They will understand plain English, but jargon may puzzle them. My goal is simply to give them the information I would wish them to supply me if our positions were reversed. To succeed, I don't need to be Shakespeare; I must, though, have a sincere desire to inform.”

The US SEC chairman at that time, Arthur Levitt, asked Buffett to rewrite the following text into Plain English:

“Maturity and duration management decisions are made in the context of the average maturity orientation for each Fund, as set forth in the Prospectus. The maturity structure of each Portfolio is adjusted in anticipation of cyclical interest rate changes. Such adjustments are not made in an effort to capture short-term, day-to-day movements in the market, but instead are implemented in anticipation of longer term, secular shifts in the levels of interest rates (i.e., shifts transcending and/or not inherent to the business cycle).”

Buffett’s Plain English revision went like this:

“We will try to profit by correctly predicting future interest rates. When we have no strong opinion, we will generally hold intermediate-term bonds. But when we expect a major and sustained increase in rates, we will concentrate on short-term issues. And, conversely, if we expect a major shift to lower rates, we will buy long bonds. We will focus on the big picture and won’t make moves based on short-term considerations.

Can you see how much more reader-friendly Buffett’s revision is? If you want more technical information, here are the readability stats provided by MS Word:

Original text: 27.6 words per sentence in 3 sentences; Passive sentences 100%; Flesch Reading Ease 19.7; Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level 12.0

Buffett’s Plain English revision: 14.2 words per sentence in 5 sentences; Passive sentences 0%; Flesch Reading Ease 55.3; Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level 9.0

« Last Edit: December 15, 2015, 03:08:41 PM by Gerry T. Galacio » Logged
Gerry T. Galacio
Full Member
***

Karma: +0/-0
Posts: 63


View Profile
« Reply #13 on: December 16, 2015, 10:20:02 AM »

"The author of 'On Writing Well' recalls how he taught Yale students to cut through the clutter" at https://yalealumnimagazine.com/articles/2352/first-use-plain-english?page=1

Excerpt:

"What I would teach would be good English—not good journalism, or good science English, or good sports English, or any other kind of English. I would teach the plain declarative sentence and the active Anglo-Saxon verb. Passive verbs would be discouraged; so would Latinate nouns like 'implementation.' Clarity would be the main prize, along with simplicity and brevity: short words and short sentences. My favorite stylists would be invoked: the King James Bible, Abraham Lincoln, Henry David Thoreau, E. B. White, Red Smith."

Notes:

(1) Zinsser's book "On Writing Well" has sold more than 1.3 million copies.

(2) Read Joe Carillo's discussion "William Zinsser on writing: “Short is better than long. Simple is good." at http://josecarilloforum.com/forum/index.php?topic=6495.0
Logged
Gerry T. Galacio
Full Member
***

Karma: +0/-0
Posts: 63


View Profile
« Reply #14 on: December 20, 2015, 04:57:39 PM »

From "Writing in Plain English,  Five steps to better communication" by Elizabeth Danziger (Journal of Accountancy, 1997) at http://www.journalofaccountancy.com/issues/1997/jul/danziger.html

Make your clients happier by writing in their language. Here is a before and after example of how to use plain English successfully:

Before

The proxies solicited hereby for the meeting may be revoked, subject to the procedures described herein, at any time up to and including the date of the meeting.

After

You may revoke your proxy at any time up to and including the day of the meeting by following the directions on page 18.
Logged
Pages: [1] 2
Print
Jump to: