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. Some of the books are available on free download as PDFs. Others are available in bound editions only, from the publishers or a company such as Amazon.

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

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Clarifying EC Regulations

Communicating with Older People cover
In Clarifying EC Regulations, written in 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. They critically examine a regulation on public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents, and transform it into a plain-English version. 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 Hain.

Free download (2.6MB) in two parts: part 1 (covers) and part 2. 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 ‘Plain Language Commission’.

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.

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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 ‘Plain Language Commission’.

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 has 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

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

The Simple Secrets of Writing & Speaking (Almost) Like a Professional

The Simple Secrets of Writing & Speaking (Almost) Like a Professional cover

Written by Philip Yaffe, a former journalist and marketing consultant, this edition of his book is adapted from In the ‘I’ of the Storm: the Simple Secrets of Writing & Speaking (Almost) like a Professional (Story Scientia, 2006), which was intended for business executives and other professionals.
This edition is for college students.

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The author would welcome feedback from students who use it; please email

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. Paperback, 368 pages.

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

Price: £8.99 or $11.95 from Quote ADFLYK2 to save 30%.

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 the late 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.’ – Professor Michael Zander

Download the book free of charge (3.5MB). There are five parts, so click on each part to download it:

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’.


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.

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