Oxford Guide to Plain English

Oxford Guide to Plain English

4.17 (156 ratings by Goodreads)
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Plain English is the art of writing clearly, concisely, and in a way that precisely communicates your message to your intended audience. This book offers expert advice to help writers of all abilities improve their written English. With 30 chapters, each centred around a practical guideline, its coverage is extensive, including lessons on vocabulary, punctuation, grammar, layout, proofreading, and organization. There are also hundreds of real examples to show how
it's done, with handy 'before' and 'after' versions. All this is presented in a straightforward and engaging way.

This new edition has been fully revised, reorganized, and updated to make its content even more accessible. There are new chapters discussing customer-service writing and common blunders in the workplace, while other sections have been amended to update examples and provide easier routes through the book. The chapter on sexism, in particular, has been heavily expanded to advise on the use of inclusive language in general. A new appendix has also been added, summarising the history of plain
English from Chaucer to the present day.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 384 pages
  • 129 x 195 x 20mm | 402g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Revised
  • 5th Revised edition
  • 15 illustrations
  • 0198844611
  • 9780198844617
  • 105,515

Table of contents

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
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Review quote

More than ever there's a need for writers and editors to understand how best to apply plain English concepts. In this new edition of the Oxford Guide to Plain English Martin Cutts sets out an excellent approach to doing just that. It is an essential reference book for anyone interested in plain English. * Mary McCauley, Association of Freelance Editors, Proofreaders and Indexers of Ireland * 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 * This book has been on my list of recommended reading ever since lawyers first started asking me to suggest a book on clear writing ... Following even half the advice in this book will make you one of the clearest communicators in the legal profession. * Daphne Perry, The Law Society Gazette * This is an excellent book! Information is presented in a crisp, clear and easy to read way. The principles are easily grasped, and the use of examples helps the reader to test their understanding and reinforce their own learning. * Warren Singer, Communicator *
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About Martin Cutts

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.
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Rating details

156 ratings
4.17 out of 5 stars
5 40% (62)
4 40% (62)
3 19% (30)
2 1% (1)
1 1% (1)
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