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Plain language law bibliography

How To

Asprey, M. 1996, Plain Language for Lawyers, 2nd ed., Federation Press, Sydney.
This edition has been revised to cover significant developments in plain language and the law since 1991. It also includes a new section on document design and testing. This book uses examples to illustrate the various points raised.

Australian Government Publishing Service 2002, Style Manual for Authors, Editors and Printers, Revised by Snooks & Co. 6th ed, Milton, Qld, John Wiley & Sons.
Includes guidelines for writing, organising and evaluating documents to ensure that they are clear.

Butt, P. & Castle, R. 2001, Modern Legal Drafting: a Guide to Using Clearer Language, Cambridge University Press, Oakleigh, Victoria.
Looks at how and why traditional legal language has developed the characteristics which make it inaccessible to end users. Also includes information on how to make documents clearer and more useful to clients and colleagues by reworking obscure words and phrases.

Centre for Plain Legal Language 1995, Law Words: 30 Essays on Legal Words and Phrases [out of print].
Examines a number of legal phrases and proposes plain language alternative if appropriate.

Centre for Plain Legal Language 1993, Checklist for writing in plain language
A checklist of things to consider in writing clearly including audience, structure, content, language and design.

Centre for Plain Legal Language 1993, Designing your document
Guidelines for good design covering typeface, typesize, spacing, case, justification, highlighting and use of white space.

Centre for Plain Legal Language 1995, Designing forms.
Guidelines for effective forms design

Centre for Plain Legal Language 1995, How to find out if your document really works
Guidelines for testing a document to measure its performance and finding out if the document is being used as intended.

Stern, George, From officialese to plain English, Australian National University.
A list of nearly two hundred terms that one often sees in official papers with recommended replacement terms.

Duckworth, M. & Mills G. 1996, Organising a Plain Language Project, Federation Press, Sydney.
This manual is designed to help those starting on a plain-language project. It covers how to set up and manage a project and how to measure the effects of plain language documents. The authors take a step-by-step approach and there is a checklist summarising the processes and procedures involved.

Eagleson, R., Jones, G. & Hassall, S. 1992, Writing in Plain English, AGPS, Canberra.
A step-by-step guide to planning, writing, designing and testing documents.

Macdonald, R. & Clark-Dickson, D. 2000, Clear and Precise: Writing Skills for Today's Lawyer, Continuing Legal Education Department, Queensland Law Society, Brisbane.

Meehan, M. & Tulloch, G. 2001, Grammar for Lawyers, Butterworths, Sydney.
A brief guide to the correct use of grammar in legal writing.

Denmark, David 2000, Best practice manual for the publication and display of public transport information, NSW Dept of Aging,
Looks at the issues for older people and people with a disability and provides guidance on how to present information so that it is understandable to as wide a range of passengers as possible. Areas covered include language, colour contrast, print size and font.

Robinson, Les, Making Reader Friendly Publications: how to produce newsletters, letters and manuals that people will want to read,, Social Change Media
Includes sections on designing, using visuals, structure, editing and dealing with printers.


Balmford , C. 2001, ‘Plain language: beyond a 'movement': repositioning clear communication in the minds of decision-makers’, Paper at Language & the Law Conference, University of Texas (for copies email

Butt, P, 2002, 'Assumptions behind plain legal language', Hong Kong Law Journal, Vol. 32, pp. 1173-186.

Centre for Plain Legal Language 1995, Comprehending legal documents
Discusses research into the link between plain language and comprehension.

Conway, P. 2002, 'Syntactic Ambiguity',$file/syntactic.pdf
This paper discusses the significance of sentence structure in relation to clear and precise drafting.

Duckworth, M, & Mills, G, 1995, The Gains From Clarity, Centre for Plain Legal Language & the Centre for Microeconomic Policy Analysis, Sydney [out of print].
This report describes research into the effects of producing documents in plain language. The research is based on three case studies that deal with the processing of applications lodged by clients: the Family Court's Divorce Application Form, a Sun Alliance and Royal Insurance home insurance policy, and a Liverpool City Council building application form. It was concluded that plain language documents could result in time saved in completing the form, less need to amend it later, less effort to understand it, fewer additional inquiries, fewer rejected applications. A major conclusion is that organisation generally have a very narrow view of the process involved. The study includes guidance on 'best practice'.

Law Reform Commission of Victoria, 1987, Plain English and the Law, Report No. 9, Melbourne.
This analysis of legislation and other legal documents found that they suffered from a number of linguistic defects including excessive sentence lenth, creation and use of unnecessary concepts, poor organisation of material and unattractive layout. The report recommended the use of a plain English style and outlined why and how this could be achieved.

Law Reform Commission of Victoria, May 1990, Access to the Law: the Structure and Format of Legislation, Report No. 33, Melbourne.
This report identifies a number of defects in the traditional language and structure of legislation. It sets out a strategy for implementing the Government's plain English policy in legislation. The main proposal is for a change in the organisation and formatting of legislation.


Clarity Journal, Clarity (the worldwide lawyers' group campaigning for plain legal language)

Stylewise, National Office of the Information Economy
A quarterly newsletter on best practice in language and design for publications.

This list was prepared by Abigail Gray and Sue Scott and is based on a bibliography prepared by Colin Fong, Librarian, Australian Taxation Studies Program.

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