Books

From the Oxford Guide to Plain English to our booklets on legal writing, there’ll be something to interest you. Several titles are on free download.

How to get the books

Please check each book description for details. Some of the books are available here on free download as PDFs. Others are available in bound editions only, from the publishers or a company such as Amazon.

Oxford Guide to Plain English

Oxford Guide to Plain English

The Oxford Guide to Plain English by Martin Cutts (Oxford University Press, fifth edition, 2020) – provides 30 guidelines on how to write in a clear and well-structured way. Fully revised and reorganized for ease of use. Regarded by many as a standard reference book on plain language. Paperback, 368 pages.

  • Includes chapters on how to plan and organize your material.
  • Explains how to keep sentences short, use good verbs to express the action, and avoid noun-heavy writing.
  • Shows how to use the active voice and to make even the crustiest legal documents more understandable. 
  • Explains how to use vertical lists for added impact, and how to punctuate them consistently.

‘A provocative tome…anathema to a generation of pedants.’ Daily Telegraph

Price: GBP9.99 from www.oup.com. Quote ADFLYK2 to save 30%.

Nailing the Lies of the
Plain English Campaign

nailing-the-lies_BOOK COVER

For many years, a well-known company in the plain-language field have used the mass media to preach the virtues of honesty, clarity and plain dealing all round the world. They’ve also attacked other companies for allegedly falling short of their own supposedly high standards. Large parts of the media – especially the BBC – have been sucked into their self-promotion and have given them an uncritical platform. 

This book (2021) reveals the web of lies, false claims and fictions that have helped build the company’s brand and enriched the people behind it.

Free download here. (116-page PDF, 10MB)

You can also buy a bound paperback (UK only) via our postal address on the home page. Please make your £12 sterling cheque or bank draft payable to ‘Clearest.Co.UK Ltd’.  

Clarifying EC Regulations

Communicating with Older People cover

In Clarifying EC Regulations (2002) Martin Cutts and Emma Wagner show how EC regulations – which apply directly to citizens in all member states – could be written in plainer language. The authors critically examine a regulation on public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents, and transform it into a plain-English version that also has clearer layout. The revision casts aside such legalese as ‘hereinafter’ and ‘requisite’. It uses ‘read’ instead of ‘acquaint themselves’; ‘if’ instead of ‘in the event of’; ‘take’ instead of ‘instituting’; and ‘precise enough way’ instead of ‘sufficiently precise manner’. It breaks long sentences into vertical lists, adds a contents section, and uses 26 more headings than the original text.

The authors say: ‘Legislation should be written primarily for the intelligent, literate citizen with an enquiring mind, not just lawyers and special-interest groups.’ Foreword by Peter (now Lord) Hain.

Free download (2MB). Or buy for £10 (bound paperback, UK only) through our postal address on the home page. Please make your sterling cheque or bank draft payable to ‘Clearest.Co.UK Ltd’.

Communicating with Older People

Communicating with Older People cover

Our culture often undervalues older people, as reflected in the sometimes low standard of written communications aimed at them. Yet older people account for a large – and growing – part of the UK population.

In the past, we’d refer to ‘the older generation’ but it’s common for there now to be two – or even three – generations aged 60-plus. And there’s likely to be a big difference in the life experiences of people in their 60s, 80s and 100s – sometimes referred to as the ‘young old’, ‘middle-aged old’ and ‘old old’. So how can we communicate effectively with them all?

In Communicating with Older People, Sarah Carr examines what authors should think about when writing for readers aged 60-plus. Emphasising plain-language techniques, her book includes guidelines on inclusive writing and covers such areas as purpose, content and structure; style and grammar; layout and design; and checking the text’s level of difficulty.

The book is available as a PDF on free download (60 pages).

‘You have given us excellent information about older people and excellent guidelines for communicating with them.’ – Janice (Ginny) Redish, plain-language expert and author of Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works

‘Sarah Carr has written a concise yet comprehensive guide to communicating with older people that succeeds in offering practical advice without ever coming across as patronising. Not only is Carr’s book about plain language, it is a model of plain language … I would definitely recommend this guide to any organizations I work for if they are looking to communicate with older people.’ – Catherine Buckie, Clarity Journal

Download (0.9MB)

Clarifying Eurolaw

Clarifying EC Regs book cover

Clarifying Eurolaw (2001) by Martin Cutts shows how the 1988 EC directive on toy safety could be written in clearer English without losing significant legal effect.

The booklet gives a commentary on the original directive (which begins with a 1,000-word sentence composed of 34 whereas-clauses) and provides a completely rewritten and restructured version.

The revision cuts the number of internal cross-references by half, reduces average sentence length, and increases the number of headings from 16 to 43. It also includes a citizen’s summary of the main points in straightforward language. The booklet sets out six principles for writing clear directives, including: ‘Directives should be reasonably comprehensible to an intelligent citizen with an enquiring mind and an interest in the subject – not just to lawyers … and special-interest groups.’

The booklet was produced with help from the European Commission’s translation service, which distributed 1,000 copies throughout the legal and administrative institutions of the EU.

Download (1MB) free of charge

Or buy for £10 (bound paperback, sent to UK addresses only) through our postal address on the home page. Please make your sterling cheque or bank draft payable to ‘Clearest.Co.UK Ltd’.

Good Word Guide

Good Word Guide

The Good Word Guide (seventh edition, 2011, published by Bloomsbury) offers advice on the many problems faced by writers of English and is valuable to students, journalists, report-writers, would-be authors, and anyone with an important letter to write.

The book includes a foreword by Martin Cutts of Plain Language Commission, who argues that hundreds of thousands of children go through school without getting interested in literature and that ‘illiteracy is one of the taproots of crime’. However, he says English buffs are partly responsible for turning young people off literature:

‘An interest in words too often declines into obsessive pedantry in which old rules and conventions are observed and prescribed long after any reason for them has gone. One of the strengths of English is its willingness to embrace change – new words emerge, new usages thrive, new norms are established.’

‘In every sense, a good word guide.’ Times Educational Supplement

Download the foreword (100KB)

You can buy the ‘Good Word Guide’ from www.bloomsbury.com or bookshops.

Lucid Law

Oxford Guide to Plain English

Lucid Law (2nd edition, 2000) by Martin Cutts – describes our innovative and influential project to rewrite and redesign an Act of Parliament, showing how it could be clarified.

Forewords by Lord Bingham of Cornhill and Professor Michael Zander.
‘A wonderful book.’ – Nacab Booklist
‘This report shows that, with the time, energy and inclination, statute law can be dramatically clarified.’ – Clarity Journal
‘The most important contribution to statutory drafting this [the 20th] century.’ – Prof. Michael Zander

Download the book free of charge (2MB).

Or buy for £12 (bound paperback, sent to UK addresses only) through our postal address on the home page. Please make your sterling cheque or bank draft payable to ‘Clearest.Co.UK Ltd’.

Indlish

Oxford Guide to Plain English

Indlish — The Book for Every English-Speaking Indian (2006) by Jyoti Sanyal is available from Viva Books (India), price 295 rupees.

Download more details and read the foreword by Martin Cutts, the book’s editor.

Twenty-five Years of Battling Gobbledygook

Oxford Guide to Plain English

Twenty-five Years of Battling Gobbledygook (2004), a booklet of short articles, describes some of the progress in the plain-language field since Martin Cutts co-founded the Plain English Campaign in 1979.

Download (0.5MB)