Learn Plain Language with Michelle Waitzman

The online course on plain language returns for 2023! This comprehensive six-session course is for professionals who work in marketing, social media, internal communications, or business-to-business sales (B2B)—anyone who wants to communicate clearly and effectively to their intended readers. This includes writing reports, proposals, forms, manuals, emails, blogs, and anything that deals with information. The sessions will be facilitated by Editors Canada member Michelle Waitzman, an experienced corporate writer and editor, communications consultant, and published author. See below for course dates and registration info.

Unfamiliar with using plain language? Editors Toronto created a mini video series where Michelle answers some common questions.

What is plain language?

The goal of plain language is to make important information easier for the intended readers to understand. More than a specific style, it is a set of guidelines and principles that will help you write more clearly and effectively for your audience. 

Canadian society is made up of people from many different cultural and linguistic backgrounds with a wide variety of reading levels. It is crucial that important information is accessible to everyone, no matter how well they can understand written English or French. 

In many fields, it is commonly believed that bigger words, complicated sentence structures, and archaic language make a piece of writing seem more professional. In reality, many of the “rules” people learned about writing in school are outdated and were never helpful. Good writing should not be unnecessarily complex.

Who should learn plain language?

Our course in plain language principles will be useful to anyone who wants to write more effectively, at any career stage. Anyone who writes as part of their work, from emails to contracts, can benefit from learning plain language. It is especially helpful for those who work in government, law, finance, and non-profit organizations. Anyone who needs to write copy, manuals, blogs, or forms for a business will also find it helpful.

What will you learn?

Throughout the course’s six modules, you will learn to apply plain language principles to sentences, vocabulary, paragraph structure, and design. You will also learn how to write for your target audience and how to write strategically for diverse audiences. The modules are listed below.

Our six-week online course will require 2–3 hours of commitment per week. Each week, whenever it is convenient for you, you will watch a short video lecture of 20–25 minutes on that week’s topic. You will then complete a brief set of exercises. Throughout the week, you may interact with your classmates via Slack. In the weekly live session, you will meet with the class and the instructor for 45–60 minutes to discuss the homework and ask questions. All live sessions will take place via Zoom.

Meet your instructor

Photo of Michelle Waitzman

Michelle Waitzman is a professional trainer, writer, and editor based in Toronto. She specializes in writing about complex subjects in approachable, easy-to-understand ways. Author of three books and many articles and blog posts, Michelle has written about immigration, law, banking, taxes, personal finance, computer science, and more. As a member of Plain Language Association International (PLAIN) and Editors Canada, she is dedicated to helping her clients improve the quality of their content and communications.

Course outline:

Module 1: Writing for Your Audience

Module 2: Words

Module 3: Sentences

Module 4: Paragraphs

Module 5: Structure and Design

Module 6: The Plain Language Process

Dates:

March 9 — Module 1 becomes available 

March 16 — Live session 1 at 7 pm EDT / Module 2 becomes available

March 23 — Live session 2 at 7 pm EDT / Module 3 becomes available 

March 30 — Live session 3 at 7 pm EDT / Module 4 becomes available

April 6 — Live session 4 at 7 pm EDT / Module 5 becomes available

April 13 — Live session 5 at 7 pm EDT / Module 6 becomes available

April 20 — Live session 6 at 7 pm EDT

Enrol by Thursday, March 2, 2023

Enrolment cost: $300 plus HST (HST is based on the province you are currently living in).

To enrol or ask any questions, please email [email protected]

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