Plain English Blog

Andrew Pegler interviewed on ABC radio about our plain English work with legal contracts


Andrew Pegler was interviewed on ABC radio by Jon Faine about his talk at Clarity 2016 – the global plain English conference for law, business, and government held in NZ. Andrew, a passionate advocate for plain English, talked with Jon about our work taking the legalese out of consumer contracts and government legislation and why there should be more of it.  


Your 9 essentials for a great annual report


Annual reports are often considered the ‘thoroughbreds’ of corporate document production: they need a steady hand on the reins to get across the finish line. Over the past 15 or so years my company has been involved in the plain-English editing, writing, layout and design of over 50 annual reports. This includes three for NAB, four for the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet, and five for Sustainability Victoria, as… Continue reading →


Five tips for writing shorter sentences


We’ve all had to navigate them … the protracted strings of words (otherwise known as sentences) that seem to stretch to the horizon and veer out around Pluto, before finishing with a lap of the sun. The meaning of these arduous, dull assaults on our concentration is generally lost somewhere on the journey through the solar system. While this is a journey that may interest NASA, here on corporate terra… Continue reading →


Robotics, mass unemployment and the coming age of je ne sais quoi


  The concept of robots arrived along with the 20th century, as a logical progression in an increasingly industrialised and mechanised world. Pundits at the time, driven by imagination and a new landscape of endless possibilities, wove tales of how these mechanical marvels would help free us from drudgery and menial work. Since the mid-20th century many of these apparently wild tales have come to fruition with robotic technologies creating… Continue reading →


How do you deal with change?


Change is the essence of capitalism. Back in 1942, Joseph Schumpeter popularised the idea that creative destruction of economies, and/or sectors of economies, was critical to prosperity and growth. He argued that progress in a capitalist system relied on the destruction of an existing economic order to make room for the next. Capitalism was, essentially, an evolutionary process of continuous innovation. Agents of this creative destruction range from the opening… Continue reading →


Your Federal Budget Plain English Jargon Buster!


With the budget now out I thought it may help write a plain English explanation of some budget basics. What’s fiscal policy? Fiscal policy is influencing growth and productivity by increasing/decreasing tax and government spending. If the government spends a lot, it stimulates growth but growth can awaken the inflation genie and once that’s out of its bottle there’s trouble. The challenge is finding a balance in exercising these influences…. Continue reading →


When stone masonry meets plain English!


plain English

As a plain-English editor and writer I sometimes feel like a stonemason. Please, let me explain. Let’s enter a parallel universe (or at least one where matter can be emailed). In this world, I am regularly sent large stone sculptures that have been created by capable, smart people. The intellectual calibrating has been completed, the ideas corralled, and the strategy behind them well-considered. However, the shape remains unwieldy, unfinished and… Continue reading →


Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity i.e. the perils of not using plain English


When it comes to writing clarity, simplicity are ideal. In their classic manual of style, Strunk and White encourage writers to ‘omit needless words’. They were the early adopters of plain English. Indeed the first step towards clarity is writing simply. Use direct sentences with simple common words.      


Plain English and contracts – yes the two can coalesce!


Professor Joseph Kimble of Western Michigan University Cooley Law School in his book Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please: The Case for Plain Language in Business, Government, and Law, states that “guidelines for writing in plain language aren’t offered for some rarefied aesthetic purpose. They are ways to reach the ultimate goal of clarity—of readers’ being able to find, understand, and use.” And Steven Pinker, an award-winning cognitive scientist, Harvard… Continue reading →


Churchill, Einstein and the origins of plain English


An English plane….   Winston Churchill may be well known for the battles he waged in the name of the Allied Forces but it is the lesser known war he declared on the desecration of the English language that still rages. At the height of the Battle of Britain with war all round him Churchill barked out an edict banning bureaucratese, legalese, officialese, jargon and other gobbledygook in favour of… Continue reading →


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