Plain Language: The Basics

Plain Language: The Basics

with Peter Moskos

Note: Editors BC will also run this seminar in Victoria later this spring in partnership with the Professional Editors’ Association of Vancouver Island (PEAVI).

According to the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS), 48 percent of adult Canadians have difficulty reading the texts necessary to their daily lives. For many of these people, as well as those of us with little time to read documents more than once, plain language is a must. This course introduces plain language. The course manual demonstrates basic plain language techniques and provides “before” and “after” examples, practical exercises and an easy-to-use checklist. The course is learner-centred and skills-based. Working in groups, you will learn by doing.


You will learn

  • what plain language is
  • when to use it
  • why it is important
  • how 10 basic techniques will make your writing clearer, more straightforward and more effective

Seminar Outline

The plain language writing techniques you will cover include

  • plain words and common expressions
  • short sentences
  • unpacking embedded ideas
  • active voice
  • smothered verbs
  • unnecessary modifiers
  • personal pronouns and polite expressions
  • positive tone
  • paragraph structure and logic
  • document layout
  • measuring readability

Learning Outcomes

In this course, you will learn to

  • appreciate the need for plain language writing
  • recognize writing that needs to be rewritten in plain language
  • use 10 techniques to write materials in plain language, so a broad spectrum of readers can understand them quickly and easily


  • a knowledge of basic grammar

Materials to bring with you

  • a 1½ or 2 inch three-ring binder to insert the manual and exercises

The course supplies about 90 pages of explanation, examples, exercises, suggested responses and bibliographic materials. Registration includes a $10 fee to cover the cost of photocopying. 

Please note that lunch is not included in the cost of registration.

An accomplished writer and editor, Peter Moskos specializes in plain language writing—organizing unstructured, complex or overwritten materials and making them clear and easy to follow. Peter has written and edited reports to Parliament, technical reports, manuals, student handbooks, training materials, speeches, legislation, marketing materials and advertising brochures. Now based in Vancouver, Peter is retired but continues to offer courses in plain language and in how to build a writing and editing business. In the past, Peter taught in Douglas College’s Print Futures Program and was an online instructor for Ryerson University’s Diploma in Publishing. Peter played a formative role in the development of Editors Canada’s certification program and for his contribution was designated an honorary Certified Professional Editor.


Date & Time: Feb 24, 2016 09:00 AM to
Feb 24, 2016 04:00 PM
[America/Vancouver UTC -8]


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Location: SFU Harbour Centre
Room 2250
515 West Hastings Street
Vancouver B.C.

Get Driving Directions
Registration Closes: Feb 23, 2016 07:30 PM

Event Coordinator:

EAC-BC Branch Coordinator
 Registration Fees
Member Price
Early Bird and Regular Registration  
Non-member Price
Early Bird and Regular Registration  

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