Oxford guide to plain english, Fourth edition, Cutts M., 2013

Oxford guide to plain english, Fourth edition, Cutts M., 2013.

   Plain English embraces honesty as well as clarity, or should do. Essential information should not lie or tell half-truths, especially when it comes from those who are socially or fi nancially dominant. For example, insurance and pension companies should not hide their charges beneath a mass of detail. A health leafl et should not withhold facts that political, religious, or minority groups might fi nd unpalatable. Products claiming green credentials should not use duplicitous labels like ‘recyclable’, since almost anything can be recycled, or ‘harvested from sustainable forests’, since all forests are sustainable and what matt ers is whether they are indeed sustained, and how.

Oxford guide to plain english, Fourth edition, Cutts M., 2013

Preferring plain words.
Here is a US secretary of state refusing an assistant’s request for a pay rise:
Because of the fl uctuational predisposition of your position’s productive capacity as juxtaposed to government standards, it would be momentarily injudicious to advocate an increment.

Th is overdresses a simple idea in phrases designed to show the author’s high status in the pecking order. In forelock-tugging times, people might have been impressed. Now they smell pomposity, and dislike being forced to translate into plain English.

Starting points.
Summary of guidelines.
1 Writing short sentences and clear paragraphs.
2 Preferring plain words.
3 Writing tight.
4 Favouring active-voice verbs.
5 Using vigorous verbs, and untying noun strings.
6 Using vertical lists.
7 Converting negative to positive.
8 Cross-references, cross readers.
9 Using good punctuation.
10 Pitching your writing at the right level.
11 Six writing myths explored and exploded.
12 Clearly non-sexist.
13 Conquering grammarphobia.
14 Sound starts and excellent endings.
15 Planning well.
16 Using reader-centred structure.
17 Using alternatives to words, words, words.
18 Management of colleagues’ writing.
19 Good practice with email.
20 Writing better instructions.
21 Clarity for the Web.
22 Lucid legal language.
23 Writing low-literacy plain English.
24 Basics of clear layout.
25 Keeping errors in Czech: its time to Proofread.
Appendix: commonest words.
Sources and notes.

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