Plain Language — Plain English — Clear Writing
interactive exercises and other resources
Created / compiled by Atty. Gerry T. Galacio

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Exercises in avoiding wordiness, formalism, redundancy, nominalization or hidden verbs, doublets, dummy subjects, and double negatives (with automatic scoring and time limit of 18, 30, 45, or 60 seconds)

Exercises in avoiding redundancies (with automatic scoring and time limit of 1 or 3 minutes)

Asian Development Bank’s Clear Writing guidelines (flashcards; exercises with time limit and automatic scoring)

Exercises from OECD Style Guide 2nd Edition (British English; with time limit and automatic scoring)

Exercises based on US Air Force Communications Handbook 33-337 dated 27 May 2015, also known as “The Tongue and Quill” (164 matching type quizzes with automatic scoring, with or without time limit)

Miscellaneous exercises (with automatic scoring but no time limit)

Exercises in avoiding legalese and jargon (with automatic scoring and time limit of 30 or 45 seconds)

Miscellaneous exercises (except for flashcards, all exercises have time limit and automatic scoring)

Plain English words and phrases (matching-type exercises)

Extreme exercises in avoiding legal jargon and wordiness (each quiz has 10 items with 25 seconds time limit)

Flashcards (no scoring or time limit)

Gender-neutral and gender-free language (flashcards)

Flashcards (based on materials from Department of Management Services Florida, USA)

Plain English guidelines used in restyling of US Federal Rules of Court (flashcards)

Plain English guidelines from various government regulatory agencies on how to create clear, concise, and effective disclosure documents (flashcards)

Plain Language Clear and Simple, Canada (flashcards)

The Ohio Supreme Court Writing Manual; Commonly Misused Words and Phrases (flashcards)

Plain Language exercises based on legislative drafting manuals

(1) Matching type quizzes with time limit and automatic scoring

(2) Flashcards, based on Minnesota Revisor’s Manual 2013 Edition

(3) Flashcards, based on “Drafting Legislation in Hong Kong: A Guide to Styles and Practices”

Health Literacy Thesaurus: Medical terms, phrases, references, and their Plain English equivalents or definitions (flashcards):

A (abdomen - avoid); B (B cells - by which time); C (cancer - cystitis); D (dander - dyspepsia); E (economical - extend) F (facilitate - fundamental); G (gamete - Guillain-Barre Syndrome); H (H5N1 - hypotension); I (identical - isolation of ill people); J-K-L (jaundice - lymphocytes); M (macrophage - mutation); N (narcotic - nutritious); O (objective - overabundance); P (palatable - purchase); Q (qualified - quarantine); R (RA - rupture); S (sanitary - systemic); T (taper - tumor); U (ulcer - UVB) V (vaccinate - vomit); W (waning immunity - witness); X, Z (X-ray - zoonoses)

Journalism is a good foundation for Plain Language (Dow Jones Editing Tests, with answers: Part 1 grammar/usage, Part 5 editing and headline writing)

1998; 1999; 2000; 2001; 2002; 2003; 2004; 2005; 2006; 2007; 2008; 2009; 2010; 2011; 2012; 2013

Before and After revisions and discussions from some government communications (external links)

Plain Language videos (external links)

Siegel+Gale Simplicity Survey (PDFs open in new tab)

  • A Clarion Call for Transparency (2009): Eighty-four percent of respondents are “...more likely to trust a company that uses jargon-free, plain English in its communications.”
  • Global Brand Simplicity Index 2013: Simplicity in processes and communications inspires deeper trust and greater loyalty in customers, and clears the way to innovation for employees.
  • Simple: Less Is More by Alan Siegel and Irene Etzkorn, Saturday Evening Post, Nov-Dec 2013 (external link):

    “Simplicity works-in business, in government, in life. People can and should demand it. We need a call to action: the spark for a movement toward reduction of societal, governmental, and corporate complexity.”

    “Principles of simplicity apply to every interaction, whether printed, electronic, verbal, or visual. It doesn't matter whether it is a contract, an instruction, a touchscreen, or a phone tree. Products of all types-appliances, vehicles, medicines, foods-and services whether provided by a hotel, a hospital, or an online retailer can benefit from simplicity.”

Plain Language, Plain English or Plain Writing for government offices, private companies, schools, and organizations — overview, definitions, benefits, and guidelines (external link); for free seminars, contact gtgalacio@yahoo.com or 0927-798-3138

Free online training courses in Plain Language (external links)

Plain Language groups you can join (external links)

Learn more about Plain Language (external links)

Toolkit for Making Written Material Clear and Effective (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; external link)

Legal Writing in Plain English, by Bryan A. Garner (principles with external links to exercises)

“Writing English as a Second Language” by William Zinsser (a talk to the incoming international students at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism; external link)

Health literacy and Plain Language (external links)

Plain Language checklists (PDFs open in new tab)

Plain Language handbooks (PDFs open in new tab)

Field testing your documents (PDFs open in new tab)

Plain Talk Usability Primer (PPT; from Washington State Department of Labor & Industries)

Plain Language includes visual design (PDFs and other links open in new tab)

“Presenting numbers, tables, charts, and graphs” by Sally Bigwood and Melissa Spore (PDFs open in new tab)

“Making Data Meaningful” from UN Economic Commission for Europe (PDFs open in new tab)

Website design, usability, and Plain Language (links open in new tab)

Writing science articles in Plain Language

How to start a Plain Language program in your organization

Slideshare presentations about Plain Language (external links)

“The Global English Style Guide: Writing Clear, Translatable Documentation for a Global Market” by Kohl (Table of Contents, Chapter 1)

Clear, concise English for effective legal writing (external link to series of articles)

October 13 is the International Plain Language Day

How to avoid ambiguity (PDFs open in new tab)

Free resources from OWL Purdue (external links)

Writing and editing sentences (read also OWL Purdue resources above)

English grammar and writing resources (PDFs and external links open in new tab)

E-books on writing and other topics from Bookboon (free registration required)


Exercises created by Atty. Gerry T. Galacio; all rights reserved. You can freely use these exercises, but you must not upload them to any website or the cloud. For comments, questions, corrections, or suggestions, email gtgalacio@yahoo.com

 

Exercises created with freeware Hot Potatoes v. 6.3 from the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada.

 

Family Matters (complete text of the Family Code of the Philippines; frequently asked questions; relevant laws like RA 9262; legal procedures and Rules of Court)

 

Legal Updates (in-depth discussions of issues affecting the Filipino family, legal procedures, support, inheritance, etc.): Plain Language / Plain English for government offices, private companies, schools, and organizations; Clear, concise English for effective legal writing; Legal procedures in civil and criminal cases; Heirs and inheritances

Better English resources and exercises (free resources on grammar, pronunciation, spelling, writing, vocabulary, idioms, reading comprehension, public speaking, etc.)

 

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