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
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. 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 personal.
- 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: £8.99 or $11.95 from www.oup.com. Quote ADFLYK2 to save 30%.
Nailing the Lies of the
Plain English Campaign
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 others for allegedly falling short of their own supposedly high standards. Large parts of the media – especially the BBC – have been sucked in to their self-promotion and have given them an uncritical platform.
This new book by Martin Cutts 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 printed copy (UK only). Send a £12 cheque or bank draft made out to ‘Clearest.co.uk Ltd’ to Plain Language Commission, 29 Stoneheads, Whaley Bridge SK23 7BB.
Communicating with Older People
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
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
You can buy the ‘Good Word Guide’ from www.bloomsbury.com or bookshops.
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 ‘Plain Language Commission’.
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
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.