Useful Resources

Online resources to help you write clearly and to keep you thinking about your writing

Mignon Fogarty Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips 

Jan Freeman Throw Grammar From The Train

John H. McWhorter Lexicon Valley

Victoria Law Foundation, Helpful Communication Resources

Tasmanian Government, Communicate Clearly: A Guide to Plain English Adult Literacy Action Plan 2010–2015


Books and articles to soak in

Although some of these are old ― one is from 1963 ― they are still utterly relevant and on point.


How to write in plain language

Peter Butt and Richard Castle Modern Legal Drafting: A Guide To Using Clearer Language Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Bryan Garner, Legal Writing in Plain English: A Text With Exercises, University of Chicago Press, 2001.

Colin Wheildon, Type & Layout: How Typography And Design Can Get Your Message Across - Or Get In The Way Strathmoor Press, March 1995.

Christopher Balmford “Getting the Structure Right: Process, Paradigm and Persistence” 

  • “Part 1”    About the problem of poor structure and the need for good structure Clarity 42, September 1998, pp 42-49

  • “Part 2”    A guide about how to approach structuring your documents Clarity 43, May 1999, pp 14-23

You can access these articles on Clarity's website.



Bryan Garner, Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage, 3nd edition, Oxford University Press, 1995.

Pam Peters, The Cambridge Guide to English Usage, 1st edition, Cambridge University Press, 2007

The Standard for Australian Government Writing and Editors 

HW Fowler, RW Burchfield, New Fowler’s Modern English Usage, Revised 3rd Edition, Oxford University Press 1998

Lynne Truss Eats, Shoots & Leaves The zero tolerance approach to punctuation, Profile Books 2003.


Benefits of plain language

Professor Joseph Kimble. Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please, The Case for Plain Language in Business, Government and Law Carolina Academic Press, 2012.  Summary of research on the efficiency, effectiveness, and customer satisfaction gains that clear communication has actually delivered to a wide range of organisations. 

Law Reform Commission of Victoria  Legislation Legal Rights and Plain English, Discussion Paper No. 1, August 1986. A discussion of the benefits of plain language and the problems of poor legal communication.


Plain language is legally accurate, certain, precise, etc.

Michèle Asprey Plain Language for Lawyers 3rd edition, The Federation Press, 2004. An excellent overview.

Law Reform Commission of Victoria: 

  • Plain English and The Law, Report No. 9, reprinted 1990. A rebuttal of the arguments against plain language. The Report includes a drafting manual and various substantial demonstration rewrites in separately published appendices.
  • Access To The Law: The Structure and Format of Legislation, Report No. 33, May 1990. As its name suggests, this focuses on structure. It includes a fascinating section on the history of legislative drafting.

Professor Joseph Kimble Answering the Critics of Plain Language, 5 Scribes Journal of Legal Language 51, (1994-1995).

Professor David Mellinkoff, The Language of the Law Boston, Little Brown & Co, 1963. Brilliant Scholastic book. A landmark.

Professor Joseph Kimble and J A Prokop Jr "Strike Three for Legalese," MICH. B.J. 418 (May 1990). Research on judges’ preferences for plain language.

Benson and Kessler, "Legalese v plain English: An Empirical Study of Persuasion and Credibility in Appellate Brief Writing " 20 Loy LA L Rev at 301 (1987).