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Books

There are many important books about plain language. Most of them are not available online, but they are well-worth acquiring. Here’s a list of our favorites:

  • Lifting The Fog Of Legalese: Essays On Plain Language, Joseph Kimble, 2006. Kimble combines strong evidence and myth-busting arguments for plain legal language with much practical advice and many useful examples. And no other book is more likely to open lawyers’ eyes to the emptiness of legalese.

  • Plain English for Lawyers, Richard Wydick, 1978. This is one of the first and still one of the best books about plain language, written for lawyers but helpful to everyone. It’s still the best seller of the Carolina Academic Press.

  • Legal Writing in Plain English, Bryan Garner, 2013. The standard for plain legal writing and is very readable by non-lawyers. It covers all the most important plain language techniques. Bryan is one of our most important experts on legal writing. The book is from the University of Chicago Press. Bryan has several other important books on writing, including Garner’s Modern American Usage.

  • Plain Language for Lawyers, Michele Asprey, 2010. Another excellent book targeted at legal writing. The author is from Australia.

  • Writing in Plain English, Robert Eagleson, 1991. This book was developed for public servants but is invaluable for anyone who wants to write more clearly. It provides a step-by-step guide to planning, writing, designing, and testing documents. It was published by the Australian Government Publishing Service and is available online.

  • William D. Lutz formerly taught English at Rutgers University. He was also an attorney. In addition to helping the Security and Exchange Commission develop their plain-English program, he has published a number of excellent books on doublespeak, including Doublespeak Defined (1999), The New Doublespeak (1996), and his original book, Doublespeak (1989). Some of these books are out of print, but you can find them from used-book sources on the web.

  • Britain’s Plain Language Commission, a private-sector organization, has published a number of excellent books on plain language. Visit their website for information on Lucid Law, and other publications.

  • The Oxford Guide to Plain English, Martin Cutts, 2013. 25 easy-to-follow guidelines covering plain words, sentence length, active and passive voice, punctuation, grammar, planning, and good organization. The author advises writers not to be bound by common “non-rules” such as “never split an infinitive.” You can get the book through The University of Oxford Press or on the web.

  • The Plain English Story, Plain English Campaign, 1993. Includes sections on writing plain English, design and layout the plain English way, and the results of a plain-English approach.

  • Writing Readable Regulations, Tom Murawski, 1999. Currently out of print.

  • The Writing Coach, Lee Johns, 2004. A well-organized book on writing in plain language.