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Oxford Guide to Plain English


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements Starting points The thirty guidelines Summary of the twelve main guidelines 1: Planning comes first 2: Organizing your material in a reader-centred structure 3: Writing short sentences and clear paragraphs 4: Preferring plain words 5: Writing concisely 6: Favouring active-voice verbs 7: Using vigorous verbs 8: Using vertical lists 9: Converting negative to positive 10: Using good punctuation 11: Using good grammar 12: Keeping errors in Czech: its time to Proof read 13: Dealing with some troublesome words and phrases 14: Using or avoiding foreign words 15: Undoing knotty noun strings 16: Reducing cross-references 17: Exploring and exploding some writing myths 18: Avoiding cliches 19: Pitching your writing at the right level 20: Writing sound starts and excellent endings 21: Creating better emails 22: Using inclusive language 23: Using alternatives to words alone 24: Caring enough about customers to write to them clearly 25: Overseeing colleagues' writing 26: Writing better instructions 27: Clarifying for the Web 28: Making legal language lucid 29: Writing low-literacy plain English 30: Clarifying page layout: some basics Appendix 1: Commonest words Appendix 2: A short history of plain-English moments Sources and notes Index

About the Author

Martin Cutts is a writer, editor, and teacher. He co-founded the Plain English Campaign in 1979, and in 1994 he founded Plain Language Commission. He gives writing-skills courses in companies, government departments, and law firms. He is a leading voice in the international plain-language movement.


Review from previous edition An excellent book ... indispensable to anyone compiling a style guide ... The multitude of real-life examples demonstrating the practices described make the book equally useful to experienced writers checking specific points and to novices needing broader guidance. * Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators (ISTC) Magazine, Sept 2008 *
This is a most useful addition to the shelves of anyone who has to write whether it is for the web, report-writing, letters, emails, instruction manuals or legal documents. Here is clarity and common sense - this little book provides it all and for a very reasonable cost indeed. * Reference Reviews, Joan Williamson *
[S]hould be on every writer's bookshelf * Susanne Geercken and Alistair Reeves, Medical Writing *
A pleasure to read ... the Oxford Guide to Plain English should be on every editor's bookshelf. * Claire Bacon, Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading *

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