Writing Well: Plain Language

Do you ever start reading a report, email, website, set of instructions or other publication and give up because you can’t follow it? Or read a document twice, even three times, to figure out what it means? 

Plain language, also known as plain writing or plain English, is an approach to writing that starts with readers. A plain language document is clear, concise and well organized. It gives readers the content they need, in words they can easily understand and act on. 

In this workshop, learn how to analyze your readers’ needs and to plan and draft documents that meet those needs. Practise seven techniques for clear, memorable writing. Understand how page layout helps get your message across, and discover how to evaluate the readability of your documents. 

Bring a sample or two of your own writing (around three to five pages) to work on in class, and discover how plain language can help get your message across every time. 

Workshop Outline 

Day 1: Why plain language? 

  • What it is, what it isn’t 
  • What makes material hard to read 

Audience analysis and document structure 

  • Identify your purpose and readers 
  • Decide on your content and organization 
  • Develop an outline 
  • Decide on levels of language 
  • Keep the document reader-centred 

Day 2: Drafting your document 

  • Choose your words 
  • Structure your sentences 
  • Make your ideas flow 

Day 3: Design  

  • Hierarchy 
  • Layout 
  • Fonts 
  • Graphics 


  • Readability formulas 
  • Reader assessments 


  • Revisit your own writing 
  • Create your personal to-do list 

Course Format

This course is offered 100% online.

About Online Learning
Our online plain language course offers you a real-time virtual classroom experience where you can see and interact with your teacher and classmates. Each week, you log in at a set time to your class using our intuitive learning management platform, Canvas. Through Canvas, you access Zoom, a web conferencing app, for your live class. Just like in a classroom, you do individual, pair and group work, ask questions and receive verbal feedback from your instructor.

Outside of class time, you can access handouts and other materials online at your own pace and rhythm. You might be doing readings or watching videos to prepare for your next class, or practising with the material you have learned in your previous class. You do get out what you put in.

In order for a virtual classroom to be successful, we want to see your faces! Please be prepared to participate with your video turned on. We provide virtual drop-in sessions for you to test out the Zoom app before your first day of class.  We will also send you instructions on accessing Canvas before your course begins.

Learn more about online learning at UBC Extended Learning.

Available Sessions

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Nov 3, 2022-Nov 17, 2022 | Online | $390.00

Format: Online, Instructor Supported with Real-time Classes
Code: WG204F22O
Offered: On Thu
Nov 3, 2022-Nov 17, 2022
3 sessions
6:00 PM-9:00 PM Pacific Time

1nstructor: Iva Cheung

Fees / Tuition

Type Fee Tax Total
$390.00 $19.50 $409.50