woman writing and typing on laptop

Plain Language 101: Techniques to Write Clear, Readable, Inclusive Planning Materials

This course covers the basics of writing in plain language through a series of interactive chapters.

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Course Info

  • Duration 8 video lessons (73 Mins)
  • Published Published
  • Trending Trending
  • 4.60
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Browse Course Chapters

  • Chapter Locked
    Chapter Duration 3 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    Plain Language: What Is It? Why Use It?
    Chapter Duration 9 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    Know Your Audience
    Chapter Duration 8 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    Words Matter: Everyday, Concise, and Clear
    Chapter Duration 12 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    Voice: Active, Inclusive, Professional
    Chapter Duration 13 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    Organizing Your Work
    Chapter Duration 14 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    The User Isn't Broken
    Chapter Duration 10 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    Wrapping Up
    Chapter Duration 1 min

What You Will Learn

  • Be able to define and use plain language.
  • Understand how how plain language increases transparency and trust.
  • Understand how plain language supports equity and inclusion.
  • Know how to develop personas to clarify audience needs.
  • Know how to apply specific plain language techniques to written documents.
  • Know how to share plain language feedback with teammates or coworkers.
  • Know how to use focus groups and user feedback to improve written materials.
  • Know how to measure the impact of your work on an individual product or in a broader context.

Course Description

Learn the basics of writing in plain language. Topics include “why plain language” (transparency and trust); knowing your audience (building personas); applying plain language techniques (writing skills with interactive exercises); supporting diversity and inclusion (equity, translation, language); measuring the impact of your work (metrics and assessment). Participants will use real-life examples to learn how to translate their professional expertise into content that is readable, inclusive, and clear.

At the end of this hands-on course, you'll be able to apply plain language techniques to your written materials.

Learn these skills

  • Communications & Media
  • Writing


This course is approved for 1.25 AICP CM credit.


This course is 1 LU.

Meet Your Instructor

Mary Jane Nirdlinger

Mary Jane Nirdlinger

Mary Jane is a recognized expert in plain language and has worked with a wide range of professionals in local government, urban planning, and higher education.

Meet Instructor

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