Plain English Training

Our plain English workshops are a must for organisations that want their staff to write in plain English. For us, plain English means its wording, structure and design are so clear that the target audience can quickly and easily understand and use it.

Here’s an example:

Before: Please take this communication as confirmation that we have received your request to cancel your policy and confirm that your policy has now been cancelled.

After: As requested, we’ve cancelled your policy.

We are experienced in providing in-house, professional plain English courses for federal, state, and local government bodies, law firms, insurance companies and banks. These organisations trust us to pitch our plain English training at an appropriate level, to respect and develop the existing knowledge and skills of their staff, and to provide useable writing and editing tips and techniques.

Our courses are tailored to meet your writers’ needs, which we identify through discussions with you and by studying examples of their writing in advance. The style is informal and participative, with practical work, quizzes and group work.

To ensure the lessons are not forgotten, attendees take away our plain English tips flyer for their desk.



Proven to work: Our training workshops have been improving writing since 2002 with consistently good results. Now your staff can benefit from our experience.

Hands on: When your people come to one of our workshops, their writing confidence will grow immediately and be better from day one.

Interactive: We are highly experienced communicators. We skilfully encourage attendees to contribute, get involved and learn about new and better ways to write. Our emphasis will be on learning and then doing by completing exercises tailored to you.

Tailored: We will tailor your workshop to your needs, to best reflect the everyday writing challenges staff face.


Our plain English training workshops teach our eight plain English principles and how to apply these to writing websites, policy documents, case studies, briefing papers, annual reports and more. We can email you a generalised program on request, but our training typically includes:

  • refresher on the basics of structure, sentence length, everyday English, punctuation and essential grammar
  • writing myths explained and exposed
  • how to write plain English
  • close examination of ‘before and after’ samples using a mix of our work and client-supplied examples
  • applying the learnings to individual plain English editing exercises.

Our plain English business writing course can also be tweaked to reflect a particular bias, for example:

  • writing better policy documents
  • business report writing course
  • writing better emails, letters and other communications
  • grammar and punctuation workout
  • writing ministerial and other briefing documents
  • writing for the web.




Half-day plain English

business writing

course (4 hours)


Session 1:

What is plain English business writing and how do you recognise it?

The eight golden rules for plain English business writing:

  • Consider your audience.
  • Keep it simple.
  • If you have to look up a word’s meaning, don’t use it.
  • Use the active voice.
  • Don’t use jargon if there’s a plain English equivalent.
  • Get your punctuation right.
  • Have one idea per sentence.
  • If it’s not crucial, delete it.

Session 2:

Examples of gobbledegook officialese, legalese and bureaucratese

Group plain English editing exercises (learning by doing!)



Full-day plain English

business writing course


Session 1: 9:15 – 10:30am

  • The journey of plain English
  • Plain English business writing punctuation refresher
  • What is plain English business writing and how do you recognise it?

Coffee/tea break 10:30 – 10:40

Session 2: 10:40 – 1:30pm

The eight golden rules for plain English business writing:

  1. Consider your
  2. Keep it
  3. If you have to look up a word’s meaning, don’t use
  4. Use the active
  5. Don’t use jargon if there’s a plain English
  6. Get your punctuation
  7. Have one idea per
  8. If it’s not crucial, delete it.

Lunch 130– 2pm

Session 3: 2 – 430pm

  • Examples of gobbledegook officialese, legalese and bureaucratese
  • Group plain English editing exercises (learning by doing!)

General aims and benefits of our plain English training

  • reduced costs associated with staff having to work with unclear, poorly structured content
  • staff producing clear, well-punctuated and well-structured writing that fulfils its purpose
  • increased staff efficiency by improving their planning of written work
  • staff able to identify good writing and rectify sub-standard work
  • staff able to decide when writing is ‘fit to go’, and, therefore, when to avoid unnecessary alterations.

Number of participants, follow-up and one-to-one training and duration

  • We prefer to keep it no more than 10 participants only to ensure that individual attendees have a full grasp of the concepts, but we can be flexible.
  • All attendees receive follow-up support to reinforce your training investment
  • One-on-one coaching is available by special arrangement
  • Courses run over a half-day, a full day or an agreed number of weeks
  • We also offer a one-hour Motivator and a two-hour Power Session.



Thanks for your Plain English workshop Andrew. Your 8 tips have taken hold. The Sydney Team at ACIL Allen now write with greater clarity. Jan Paul van Moort, Executive Director,

I recently attended one of Andrew’s courses ‘Writing in Plain English’ and learnt a lot of practical tools when writing public facing material. Key considerations I now apply to my writing include:

– writing more succinctly while retaining the message
– avoiding technical jargon people won’t understand, and substituting plain English for buzz words
– making what I write more accessible to a broad audience.

I’d have no hesitation in recommending Andrew’s courses to anyone interested in writing more clearly and concisely.  Tom Everitt, Level Crossing Removal Authority

Andrew’s plain English workshop was a great help for our team. His tips for plain English writing gave us clarity on what is over-writing, the importance of considering your audience and the power of simplicity in cutting through. I’m happy to recommend Andrew’s plain English workshops to any organisation seeking to deliver clearer, more effective writing. Rivkah Nissim – Project Manager, Inside Policy

Andrew’s plain English workshop for Bespoke provided practical and informative training on using language that speaks more directly to people and is therefore more effective, saves confusion and builds trust. Although plain English is now the accepted standard, Andrew’s session showed us all there is still room for improvement in every aspect of our communication. Andrew ran through his 8 rules for plain English legal writing and used real-world before and after examples followed by a session that gave attendees the chance to plain English edit real examples of legalese. Andrew tailored the workshop to reflect our Bespoke style guide, making the session all the more relevant for our lawyers. Throughout the workshop Andrew encouraged interaction and engaged in robust debates on everything from using commas to redefining ‘force majeure’. The engaging and useful session left us all as better legal communicators and I’d be happy to recommend his workshop to other law firms interested in plain English. Viv Lister – Associate Principal, Bespoke

It was refreshing to be taught a business writing course by some who took a lot of time to take an independent look at our written work. Andrew’s comments and criticisms were constructive. I found him approachable and his enthusiasm for plain English is very motivating. Victorian Government department

We learnt that by trying to fit too much into a document you actually end up confusing people. And that defeats the basic purpose of communication. Andrew’s 8 tips for plain English are easy to digest and bring a clarity to our writing that benefits everyone interested in our activities.  Thanks Andrew!  EPA Victoria