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One Day Workshop

Date: Monday 23 March

Times: 9:30am-4:00pm

CPD: 5 CPD Hours

About the Workshop

Plain English will become compulsory in the public sector when new legislation is passed later this year with both the Plain Language Bill and the Public Sector (plain language) Bill currently at second stage in the Seanad.

  • The Plain Language Bill aims to ensure that all information for the public from government and State bodies is written and presented in plain language.
  • The Public Sector (Plain Language Bill) aims to improve access to public sector information and services by requiring plain writing in published documents

These bills, once enacted will cover all new documents – from forms and emails to websites and reports – and also require that any updated materials are re-written in plain language.

This highly practical one day workshop will give managers and staff the skills and confidence to write successfully in plain English – and to prepare for the new rules. During the course, participants apply the principles of plain English to a range of authentic materials to ensure they take away skills they can immediately put into practice.

We have delivered this course to managers and staff in many government departments and agencies –  focusing on web content, letters, emails, guidelines, leaflets and reports.

‘Extremely practical content and materials that were of use immediately back in the office’ – Gaynor, Office of the Regulator of the National Lottery (June 2019)


Learning Objectives

On successful completion, participants will understand how to:

  • Plan well-structured, accessible communications
  • Write in plain English for different audiences and types of communication
  • Use clear, concise English with a professional tone
  • Update materials to ensure they comply with plain English guidelines
  • Edit their own and colleagues’ writing to a plain English standard

Course Content

Part 1 – Overview of plain English

  • What is plain English? What are the benefits?
  • How to assess readability using the Flesch Reading Ease Scale
  • Identify plain English for different types of writing: forms, leaflets, websites, letters etc.
  • Importance of a suitable style and tone of voice for your target audiences
  • Benefits of a plain English style guide


Part 2 – Planning to achieve objectives

  • Planning for accessibility
  • Define your purpose and identify your target audiences
  • Create an effective objectives statement
  • Step-by-step guide to creating a structured outline
  • Use critical thinking to ensure you write the right document


Part 3 – How to make your writing plain and professional

  • Use everyday professional English – in an appropriate style for reports, web content etc.
  • Build short, clear, strong sentences and paragraphs
  • Use strong active verbs for clarity
  • Cut dead wood, repetition, padding and wordiness
  • Be careful with jargon, technical terms and buzz words
  • How to use acronyms and abbreviations
  • Use headings, bullet lists and topic sentences for navigation
  • Use frontloading, signposts and linking words for flow and readability
  • Take a punctuation refresher
  • Use a plain English checklist

Part 4 – Reviewing

  • Strategies to review your own work
  • Use an editing checklist
  • Become aware of common errors (grammar, punctuation, use of English, spelling)
  • Identify your own ‘problem areas’
  • Layout – Make it reader-friendly


Course Tutor 

Sarah Marriott is a highly experienced trainer and former journalist who specialises in delivering Writing Skills courses for the public and private sectors. Sarah has worked as a feature writer and sub-editor at The Irish Times. She has also been involved in training Irish Times editorial staff. She is a former lecturer on the MA in Journalism at Dublin Institute of Technology and is author of Common Errors in Written English.

To read Sarah Marriott’s blog piece on report writing you can do so by clicking here 


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