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 29, 2022
Schedule
  • Tue, Mar 29 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, Apr 5 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, Apr 12 (self-paced all week)
LocationOnline
InstructorKari Hasselriis
Cost$350.00
Seats Available23
ActionRegister
Start DateTue, May 17, 2022
Schedule
  • Tue, May 17 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, May 24 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, May 31 (self-paced all week)
LocationOnline
Instructor- TBD
Cost$350.00
Seats Available29
ActionRegister
Start DateTue, Jul 12, 2022
Schedule
  • Tue, Jul 12 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, Jul 19 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, Jul 26 (self-paced all week)
LocationOnline
Cost$350.00
Seats Available30
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
  • Expect reading, research, writing and other assignments on a weekly basis
  • Plan to access the course at least once every few days to keep up with your work and group assignments

You will be evaluated on:

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

To graduate with the Plain Language Certificate, complete all the required courses with an overall grade of B- (70%).

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.

Required text:

Stephens, Cheryl. Plain Language in Plain English, Lulu.com, 2010. ISBN 9780557537877. E-book available for purchase from Lulu.com.

Recommended reading:

Cutts, Martin. Oxford Guide to Plain English (5th Edition). Oxford University Press, 2020. ISBN 978-0198844617. Also available as e-book. 

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.