Nitty-gritty practical editing webinar: Applying plain language principles to creating accessible, reader-friendly texts
Focus: The aim is to introduce participants to a suite of handy plain language techniques with which to turn verbose, high-register texts into those that the identified readers will find accessible and understandable at first reading.
Date: Saturday, 13 November 2021
Time: 09:30 to 13:00
Place: Online (Zoom meeting)
Facilitator: John Linnegar
Pre-webinar exercises will be sent upon registration.
More about our facilitator
John Linnegar began his career as a teacher of English, History and Mathematics. His passion for working with words was ignited by his high school teachers of English, Latin and German. Those strong grammatical foundations combined with a love of his mother tongue led him towards authorship and, as a direct result, towards improving authors’ texts for publication. He has been an avid ‘improver of authors’ words’ for four decades now, and remains dedicated to making their texts read as clearly as possible (and in the process saving a reputation or two!). John is author of several texts dealing with matters grammatical and stylistic, including Engleish, our Engleish: Common errors in South African English and how to resolve them (Pharos, 2013), contributions to the Oxford English grammar: The advanced guide (OUP, 2015) and, most recently, with Ken McGillivray, grammar, punctuation and all that jazz . . . (MLA Publishers, 2019). He currently offers a personalised ‘online’ Grammar for Editors course aimed at those who need to brush up their English grammar and/or give reasons for corrections backed up by authority.
About the workshop
‘The message is important, not the fancy language wrapped around it.’ (George Orwell)
It’s astonishing how many writers feel they need to ‘dress up’ their writing to the extent that they lose their natural (aka plain) voice completely! Their reasons are no doubt many: from wanting to impress to needing to sound important or authoritative – and sometimes even because their boss or mentor ‘writes like that, so it must be good’! But in this day and age we should rather be ‘dressing down’ writing to make it more accessible and flow better. Where writers themselves are incapable of doing so, the task usually falls to us wordsmiths to dress (not dumb!) writing down.
We need to make authors’ words clear and straightforward, using only as many words as are necessary. Plain Language helps us to do so by dispensing with the ‘fancy language wrapped around [their words]’: obscurity, inflated vocabulary and convoluted sentence constructions. Applying Plain Language principles systematically, our aim is to render the authors’ messages readily understood at first reading.
By the end of this workshop you will be able, with confidence, to:
- convert long, complex sentences into shorter compound or simple ones;
- replace, where possible, passive voice (O-V-S) constructions with active ones (S-V-O);
- remove embedded clauses from complex sentences;
- replace ‘difficult’ polysyllabic words and jargon with more everyday, accessible synonyms (eg ‘remuneration’ with ‘pay’ or ‘wage’);
- make impenetrable noun strings accessible by inserting prepositions and articles into them;
- supplant nounisms (nominalisations) with healthier vigorous verb equivalents (eg ‘invitation’ with ‘invite’);
- dispense with archaisms such as ‘aforesaid’, ‘herein’, ‘thereby’, ‘whereafter’;
- find ways to introduce useful visual elements (eg lists).
Fundamentally, we wordsmiths will be asking – and answering – the questions ‘Who is the audience?’ and ‘What are their needs?’ In so doing, we’ll be using the approach our writers should have adopted in the first place: a reader-centredness.
Everyone who registers for the webinar will receive an audio recording of the event and the PowerPoint slides afterwards.
The price of the webinar is set out below:
|Affiliation||Early-bird registration fee
(before or on 6 November)
(from 7 to 11 November)
*LAMP members: Association of Southern African Indexers and Bibliographers (ASAIB), ProJourn, Southern African Freelancers’ Association (SAFREA), South African Science Journalists’ Association (SASJA) and the South African Translators’ Institute (SATI).
Please register by completing and emailing the registration form. Deadline for registrations: 12 noon on 11 November.
If members are unable to attend this webinar after having registered and paid for it, a full refund is possible if cancellations are received by Sharon Rose by noon on 11 November. Once the final number of attendees has been confirmed on the morning of the webinar, no refunds are possible.
In addition, should you be prevented from participating in full or in part on the day of the webinar owing to Eskom loadshedding, you will be entitled to take either the same webinar or another on the 2021 webinar programme. When this occurs, the onus will be on you to inform the webinar coordinator of your disqualification on this ground and to specify which alternative webinar you would like to transfer your registration to.
Remember, though, that as a would-be or part-participant on the day, you will in any event receive the audio recording of the entire event plus PDFs of the PPT slides.
Use the early-bird special: save money and secure your spot at this webinar by registering early!