Fundamentals of Plain Language


Our courses fly by in just four weeks! Capped at six participants, we cover the principles and techniques they need to improve their writing on the job, using plenty of examples and exercises to start practicing right away. Synchronous learning generates discussion and shared problem-solving; homework assignments and a customized workbook make it real. Each 75-minute module includes theory, practical application, in-class writing exercises, current examples, and group discussion.

Foundation modules include one of the following:

  1. Fundamentals of Plain Language
  2. Clear and Effective Municipal Documents
  3. Communicating Technical Content
  4. Persuasive and Defensible Documents

Supplementary modules for the final three weeks are built on the foundation module, and include a choice of topics such as effective emails and memos; reports that get results; public letters and notices with impact; copy editing 101; and more.

Course participants complete homework on their own time (up to 2 hours per week), and submit assignments for review, personalized feedback, and group discussion. Materials include a course workbook and tip sheets; webinar recordings; and slide PDFs.

Foundation Module 1: Fundamentals of Plain Language

This course introduces strategies for applying a range of plain language* principles and techniques to the documents that professional planners need to prepare every day.

Topics include:

  1. Identifying your main reader
  2. Clarifying your purpose
  3. Organizing information for logic and flow
  4. Integrating text and visual elements to build an evidence-based case
  5. Best practices for preparing emails, public letters, and technical reports.

* Plain language is an internationally-recognized technique for communicating with a diverse range of people, including other subject matter experts, decision makers, and even the least-engaged members of the public. It helps readers find, understand, and act on your professional advice.

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