Steven Pinker—The thinking person’s approach to writing in the 21st century (Beyond the Red Pencil, 2015)

Experimental psycholinguist and author Steven Pinker gave the opening keynote at Beyond the Red Pencil, the Northwest Independent Editors Guild’s fifth biennial conference. His talk covered the same territory as his book The Sense of Style (which I reviewed earlier), but I still very much enjoyed hearing him speak in person. Why is so much … Continue reading “Steven Pinker—The thinking person’s approach to writing in the 21st century (Beyond the Red Pencil, 2015)”

Sanism and the language of mental illness

As I was reading about the stigma of mental illness, I was struck by the lack of a mainstream term to describe the discrimination that arises from that stigma. This void in our everyday terminology is telling: it implies that the oppression people with mental illness face is so commonplace and routine that it doesn’t … Continue reading “Sanism and the language of mental illness”

Where does translation fit into plain language? An information-gathering post

What struck me most when rebuilding Supply and Services Canada’s plain language guides (Plain Language: Clear and Simple and Pour un style clair et simple) was that the French guides aren’t simply the English guides, translated. Although both guides teach the same underlying principles—understanding your audience and the purpose of your document; planning and organizing your document before … Continue reading “Where does translation fit into plain language? An information-gathering post”

Now available: Pour un style clair et simple—Guide du formateur

Earlier this year I rebuilt Supply and Services Canada’s eminently useful but out-of-print plain language guides, including the two sixty-page booklets, Plain Language: Clear and Simple and Pour un style clair et simple, as well as the thorough, two-hundred-page Plain Language: Clear and Simple—Trainer’s Guide, which gives trainers the materials they need to run a two-day … Continue reading “Now available: Pour un style clair et simple—Guide du formateur

Plain Language: Clear and Simple

In 1991, in the heyday of the push for plain language in government, Supply and Services Canada produced a sixty-page plain language writing guide, in each official language, called Plain Language: Clear and Simple and Pour un style clair et simple. According to one of my colleagues, every federal employee at the time got a … Continue reading “Plain Language: Clear and Simple”

Neil James and Ginny Redish—Writing for the web and mobiles (PLAIN 2013)

Veteran plain language advocates Neil James and Ginny Redish shared some eye-opening statistics about web and mobile use at the PLAIN 2013 conference that may prompt some organizations to reprioritize how they deliver their content. In 2013, for example, there were 6.8 billion mobile phones in use—almost one for every person on the planet. Half … Continue reading “Neil James and Ginny Redish—Writing for the web and mobiles (PLAIN 2013)”

What does your markup say about you?

This interview also appears on The Editors’ Weekly, the Editors’ Association of Canada’s official blog. *** A friend of mine was venting to me about his old boss, who used to look over his reports. Whenever his boss found an error, he’d not only circle it but also emphasize his discovery with an exclamation point—a … Continue reading “What does your markup say about you?”

An e-Interview with Noeline Bridge

This interview appeared in the Winter 2012 issue of Bulletin, the Indexing Society of Canada’s newsletter. *** Editor of Indexing Names Noeline Bridge has been an indexer for more than 20 years. She has published numerous articles on indexing and is the co-author of Royals of England: A Guide for Readers, Travellers, and Genealogists. Recently … Continue reading “An e-Interview with Noeline Bridge”