Plain language (plain English) writer training

Free writing resources

Training that transforms writing skills

bureaucratic, wordy, vague writing

clear, concise, effective writing

Cost-effective, engaging courses.
Face-to-face, remote group
, or individual instruction.

Public servants and managers need to write clearly.
Plain writing helps users read, understand and act on documents.

Writing well at work teaches how to write business documents in plain language (plain English). Documents that are easy to read, get to the point fast and achieve purpose.

The course focuses on ‘functional’ documents. Purposeful documents that impact readers’ thinking, attitudes and behaviour. The course takes writers through steps to craft text that is clear and persuasive. They learn to write in a way that is engaging to read and that makes good sense to the audience.

One day course:

Writing well at work:
Covers the principles and practice of plain language. Lifts writing skills. Participants will learn to write text that is easy to read, gets to the point fast and achieves purpose.

We train hundreds of people each year to craft documents that are effective and efficient.

Half day courses:

Plain language fundamentals:
Condenses the full day Writing well at work course. Suitable for competent writers who would like a plain language refresher.

Other half day courses :
– Writing reports
– Writing for the web
– Influential writing

Group writer training enquiry | Online training for individuals.

Examples: Your readers prefer plain language.

Difficult reading

The City of Sydney is expanding the network of community gardens which allow local residents to meet and become involved in producing organic food, herbs or native plants.
Community gardens are non-profit, community-based enterprises producing food primarily for member gardeners. They are community managed, multifunctional garden spaces that can provide a wide range of environmental, social and economic benefits.
Community verge gardens may be established on the footpath verge. These are considered a type of community garden in the Community Gardens Policy (2010) when they are managed collectively by a group of local residents and decisions are jointly made.
Residents wanting to set up community gardens are referred to the City’s Community Gardens Policy and information provided on our website.
Words: 121 rating: E
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level: 14.9

Easy reading

Community gardens allow residents to produce food, herbs and native plants. They may be set up next to footpaths or in other spaces.
If you would like to set up a garden, please read the Community Gardens Policy. There is other information on our website.
A group of residents manages each community garden. They make decisions together. The gardens are non-profit and produce food mainly for member gardeners. There are many environmental, social and economic benefits of community gardens.  

Words: 80 rating: B
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level: 8.7

The current approach to production and non-production environments based on legacy and physical infrastructure has been associated with a number of issues that warrant improvements to drive efficiencies and ensure a foundation for improved working practices including the potential for higher rates of cadence and overall capacity for change.
Words: 50 rating: E
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level: 26.8

Improving our business is being held back by our technology and the way we manage it. Our technology is robust and sound and serves our customers well. But responding to needs and  opportunities is costly, slow and cumbersome. Even small changes require large effort, and may take months to implement.

Words: 50 rating: A
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level: 7.9

Plain language writing is a skill that can be learnt

Writing well at work lifts writing skills. Too often bright, capable, enthusiastic workers are let down by poor writing skills. Very few are taught to write well during formal education – Writing well at work fills that gap.

Plain English training that delivers measurable improvement
Measurable improvement in writing skills

The best course on writing I have ever done. Easy to follow and just plain common sense.

The point that no matter how long and hard you work on a report, if no one reads it then it is a waste of time. Really got through to me.

See other comments about Writing well at work.

About the trainer

Greg Pendlebury, Think-write’s principal, presents the course. Greg is a seasoned plain language expert and facilitator. He has consulted for all tiers of government and major corporations. Greg has written documents that convey complex content in a simple way for a variety of audiences. He brings a wealth of experience and unpacks the tools and techniques he uses in an easy to understand way. He gets a real buzz out of building capability.

The need for plain English training

You and your staff likely have considerable content expertise and are knowledgeable about the topics you write about. However, few authors have formal training in writing and communication. They rely on limited guidance provided during school and university, and whatever they have been able to pick up on the job or from other sources.

Our plain English training helps participants to develop skills that will help them write a range of documents: documents that are more effective and more efficient.

  • More effective – documents more easily read, understood and more likely acted on by the audience.
  • More efficient – documents written and read in less time. Less back and forth between authors and reviewers.

Thinking well and writing well are closely connected. The ability to organise ideas effectively and communicate them clearly, concisely and persuasively has significant career benefits for individuals. It also enhances the effectiveness and reputation of your organisation.

Participants will:

  • Realise the strength of a user centred mindset.
  • Recognise the relationship between writing well and thinking well.
  • Appreciate the importance of defining purpose, audience and message before writing.
  • Know how to generate and structure content.
  • Grasp the power of ‘point first’ structure.
  • Be able to use five simple plain language techniques to craft messages.
  • Understand how to refine, review and test documents.
  • Be eligible to become PlainLanguagePro certifiers

Content overview

Plain language fundamentals.
  • Effective & efficient documents.
  • Writing and thinking are closely related.
  • Make it easy for your readers.
  • Maximum meaning, minimum reading.
  • The writer is responsible for communication.
  • Describing document purpose (why)
  • Understanding the audience (who)
  • Defining the key message (what)
Developing and structuring content
  • Using mind maps to discover the content ‘landscape’.
  • Structuring content
    • For the user
    • Chunking
    • Layering
    • Point first
  • The power of talking headings
Plain language (plain English) writing techniques

Discussion and exercises around five plain writing techniques:

  1. Simple words
  2. Active voice
  3. Verbs not nouns
  4. Short, point-first, sentences
  5. Conversational style
Refining your work
  • Before it leaves your desk – style, grammar, layout, graphics
  • The review process
  • Document testing

Training approach

We deliver our Plain language (plain English) training from the perspective of a practitioner sharing insights. The course has a definite ‘hands-on’ rather than theoretical approach.

Writing well is a complex capability. The course conveys basic knowledge of the writing process and the techniques to produce effective text. It helps participants develop text that is concise and clear. There is also , and includes opportunity to practise the craft of writing.