PLNL110

Plain Language Principles

Plain language is the key to effective communication, allowing you to get the most important information to the right people as clearly and as effectively as possible. In this course, you’ll learn the writing standards and practices outlined within the plain language field. You’ll also develop a sensitivity to the issues of literacy and work toward empowering people who may have been marginalized or sidelined by a tangle of “bureaucratese.”

This course will introduce you to the basics of preparing materials that are clear and understandable. Whether you work on public documents, books, articles, forms or web material, the process is the same. Topics include understanding your purpose and your audience, doing research, writing and editing skills for plain language, and plain language design.

The final project for this course is due one week after the course ends.

Instructional hours: 9

Overview

Location: Online
Format: Self-paced within deadlines set by instructor
Duration: 3 weeks
Tuition: $350
Can be applied to:
Plain Language Certificate
Editing Certificate

Upcoming Offerings

Register for a course at any time, with the option to apply to a program later.

Start Date
Schedule
Location
Instructor
Cost
Seats Available
Action
Start DateTue, Mar 26, 2024
Schedule
  • Tue, Mar 26 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, Apr 2 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, Apr 9 (self-paced all week)
LocationOnline
Cost$350.00
Seats Available14
ActionRegister
Start DateTue, May 14, 2024
Schedule
  • Tue, May 14 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, May 21 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, May 28 (self-paced all week)
LocationOnline
InstructorJulie Clement
Cost$350.00
Seats Available24
ActionRegister
Start DateTue, Jun 18, 2024
Schedule
  • Tue, Jun 18 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, Jun 25 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, Jul 2 (self-paced all week)
LocationOnline
InstructorKari Hasselriis
Cost$350.00
Seats Available23
ActionRegister
Start DateTue, Sep 10, 2024
Schedule
  • Tue, Sep 10 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, Sep 17 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, Sep 24 (self-paced all week)
LocationOnline
Instructor-
Cost$350.00
Seats Available24
ActionRegister
Start DateTue, Oct 15, 2024
Schedule
  • Tue, Oct 15 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, Oct 22 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, Oct 29 (self-paced all week)
LocationOnline
Instructor-
Cost$350.00
Seats Available25
ActionRegister
Start DateTue, Nov 19, 2024
Schedule
  • Tue, Nov 19 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, Nov 26 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, Dec 3 (self-paced all week)
LocationOnline
Instructor-
Cost$350.00
Seats Available25
ActionRegister
Start DateTue, Jan 14, 2025
Schedule
  • Tue, Jan 14 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, Jan 21 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, Jan 28 (self-paced all week)
LocationOnline
Instructor-
Cost$350.00
Seats Available24
ActionRegister
Start DateTue, Mar 25, 2025
Schedule
  • Tue, Mar 25 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, Apr 1 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, Apr 8 (self-paced all week)
LocationOnline
Instructor-
Cost$350.00
Seats Available25
ActionRegister
Start DateTue, May 20, 2025
Schedule
  • Tue, May 20 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, May 27 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, Jun 3 (self-paced all week)
LocationOnline
Instructor-
Cost$350.00
Seats Available25
ActionRegister
Start DateTue, Jun 24, 2025
Schedule
  • Tue, Jun 24 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, Jul 1 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, Jul 8 (self-paced all week)
LocationOnline
Instructor-
Cost$350.00
Seats Available25
ActionRegister
Start DateTue, Sep 16, 2025
Schedule
  • Tue, Sep 16 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, Sep 23 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, Sep 30 (self-paced all week)
LocationOnline
Instructor-
Cost$350.00
Seats Available25
ActionRegister
Start DateTue, Oct 21, 2025
Schedule
  • Tue, Oct 21 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, Oct 28 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, Nov 4 (self-paced all week)
LocationOnline
Instructor-
Cost$350.00
Seats Available25
ActionRegister

What you will learn

After completing this course, you’ll be able to do the following:

  • Explain how and why written communication can break down
  • Define and describe the importance of plain language
  • Identify problematic words and phrases, and assess documents for plain language effectiveness
  • Develop a process for plain language writing and editing on the job
  • Recognize and use design elements that can contribute to plain language, including effective headings and subheadings, point form and lists
  • Define the purpose of a document and its audience
  • Organize information clearly for readers
  • Write clear, direct and short sentences and paragraphs, eliminating unnecessary words and phrases
  • Use active verbs and words with clear meaning

How you will learn and be evaluated

Prepare to spend 6-10 hours per week on coursework, including:

  • Readings
  • Assignments
  • Online discussions

You will be evaluated on:

  • Participation in discussions
  • 2 assignments (second assignment due 1 week after course ends)

Learning Materials

Course fees do not include textbooks. We recommend you purchase your textbook as soon as you’ve registered. We will provide additional course materials online.

Recommended reading:

Cutts, Martin. Oxford Guide to Plain English (5th Edition). Oxford University Press, 2020. ISBN 978-0198844617. Available from Amazon.ca or Indigo. Also available as e-book from Red Shelf (U.S. purchasers only).

Technical Requirements

For online courses, you will need a computer with audio and microphone that is connected to the internet. Canvas is the online system that will be used for the course. For more information and online support, visit Online Learning.

English language requirements

To succeed in this course, you will need an advanced level of written and spoken English. If you are unsure whether your English language skills are sufficient, we recommend you complete the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with the following minimums:

  • Overall band score minimum 6.5
  • No band below 6.0
  • Writing band score minimum 8.0

Please note we can’t refund your registration fees after the course start date if you find your English language skills are not adequate.

If you have questions or concerns about your English language proficiency, we encourage you to contact your local IELTS Test Centre.