Oxford Guide to Plain English (5th edition)
Oxford Guide to Plain English (5th edition)
  • Thirty practical and helpful guideline-led chapters, covering areas such as effective planning, the use of short sentences, the active voice, correct punctuation, and proofreading
  • Includes a revised and succinct introduction to the text, a list of the thirty guidelines, and summaries of the twelve most important guidelines
  • Fully reorganized and revised to aid ease of use
  • A new appendix covering the history of plain English, as well as a detailed sources-and-notes section to enable further reading

New to this Edition:

  • Includes a revised and succinct introduction to the text, a new set of summaries of the twelve most important guidelines, and a new appendix covering the history of plain English
  • The chapter on non-sexist language has been heavily updated to discuss the use of inclusive language in general

Plain English is the art of writing clearly, concisely, and in a way that precisely communicates your message to your intended audience. This book offers expert advice to help writers of all abilities improve their written English. With 30 chapters, each centred around a practical guideline, its coverage is extensive, including lessons on vocabulary, punctuation, grammar, layout, proofreading, and organization. There are also hundreds of real examples to show how it's done, with handy 'before' and 'after' versions. All this is presented in a straightforward and engaging way.
This new edition has been fully revised, reorganized, and updated to make its content even more accessible. There are new chapters discussing customer-service writing and common blunders in the workplace, while other sections have been amended to update examples and provide easier routes through the book. The chapter on sexism, in particular, has been heavily expanded to advise on the use of inclusive language in general. A new appendix has also been added, summarising the history of plain English from Chaucer to the present day.

What good writers do? by Martin Cutts (Published on OUP Blog, March 2020)


Starting points
The thirty guidelines
Summary of the twelve main guidelines

1: Planning comes first
2: Organizing your material in a reader-centred structure
3: Writing short sentences and clear paragraphs
4: Preferring plain words
5: Writing concisely
6: Favouring active-voice verbs
7: Using vigorous verbs
8: Using vertical lists
9: Converting negative to positive
10: Using good punctuation
11: Using good grammar
12: Keeping errors in Czech: its time to Proof read
13: Dealing with some troublesome words and phrases
14: Using or avoiding foreign words
15: Undoing knotty noun strings
16: Reducing cross-references
17: Exploring and exploding some writing myths
18: Avoiding clichés
19: Pitching your writing at the right level
20: Writing sound starts and excellent endings
21: Creating better emails
22: Using inclusive language
23: Using alternatives to words alone
24: Caring enough about customers to write to them clearly
25: Overseeing colleagues' writing
26: Writing better instructions
27: Clarifying for the Web
28: Making legal language lucid
29: Writing low-literacy plain English
30: Clarifying page layout: some basics

Appendix 1: Commonest words
Appendix 2: A short history of plain-English moments
Sources and notes


Martin Cutts is a writer, editor, and teacher. He co-founded the Plain English Campaign in 1979, and in 1994 he founded Plain Language Commission. He gives writing-skills courses in companies, government departments, and law firms. He is a leading voice in the international plain-language movement.

"Review from previous edition An excellent book ... indispensable to anyone compiling a style guide ... The multitude of real-life examples demonstrating the practices described make the book equally useful to experienced writers checking specific points and to novices needing broader guidance." - Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators (ISTC) Magazine, Sept 2008

"This is a most useful addition to the shelves of anyone who has to write whether it is for the web, report-writing, letters, emails, instruction manuals or legal documents. Here is clarity and common sense - this little book provides it all and for a very reasonable cost indeed." - Reference Reviews, Joan Williamson

"[S]hould be on every writer's bookshelf" - Susanne Geercken and Alistair Reeves, Medical Writing


ISBN : 9780198844617

Martin Cutts
368 ページ
129 x 196 mm





Oxford Guide to Plain English (5th edition)

Oxford Guide to Plain English (5th edition)

Oxford Guide to Plain English (5th edition)