Plain English at Work: A Guide to Writing and Speaking / Edition 1

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Everyday we write countless memos, letters, and reports without a second thought. Likewise, we give presentations, both formal and informal. Often this writing and speaking gets criticized for being jargon-ridden, obscure, or long-winded—in short, for not being in "plain English." But what is plain English, and how do we go about writing and speaking it? In Plain English at Work, Edward Bailey gives the answer, with down-to-earth tips and practical advice. Bailey, an expert in business communication, gives us a simple model for writing:

· Style: write more the way you talk.

· Organization: make your point easy to find.

· Layout: use headings, lists, and other white space so readers can see the structure of your writing.
Psycholinguists, Bailey points out, have proven that the techniques of plain English writing are far easier on your readers; experience has proven that writing in plain English is easier on you—the writer, too. Bailey also gives you a wealth of practical advice for presentations including:

· How to remember your talk.

· How to design visual aids.

· How to design computer presentations.

· How to set up the room you'll be speaking in.

· How to develop a successful delivery style.
Perhaps most impressive are the many detailed tips he gives here. For instance, when using a pointer, hold it in the hand closer to the screen (otherwise, you turn your back on the audience, making it harder to hear you). When designing a visual aid, use at least 28-point type, and seldom use all capital letters (which are harder to read). And when presenting a bar chart during a computer presentation, build it—a bar at a time—to focus your audience's attention.
Drawing on two earlier and popular books, The Plain English Approach to Business Writing and A Practical Guide for Business Speaking, this new volume has been significantly updated. It includes up-to-the-minute information on using computers, computer graphics, and typography for your writing, and on using the same technology for designing your presentations. The result is an authoritative and comprehensive single volume that will be the essential guide for everyone wishing to communicate more easily and effectively at work.

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Editorial Reviews

Offers tips on writing and speaking in both formal and informal situations, emphasizing using plain English rather jargon-ridden or bureaucratic language. Applies a simple model for writing based on style, organization, and layout to writing reports, memos, and speeches, and gives advice on public speaking, using visual aids, designing computer presentations, and handling questions and answers. Includes useful checklists. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195104493
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 5/28/1996
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 925,168
  • Lexile: 910L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.75 (w) x 8.56 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward Bailey has a national reputation as an expert in business writing and speaking. A consultant to top clients in business and government, he is Professor of Business Communications at Marymount University near Washington, D.C.

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Table of Contents

1 What is plain English writing? 3
2 Style: writing a readable sentence 9
3 Organization: getting to the point 25
4 Layout: adding visual impact 31
5 A model for writing 39
6 Passive voice 47
7 Abstractness 54
8 Punctuation 60
9 Blueprint 69
10 Executive summary 73
11 Typefaces 81
12 Headings 94
13 Bullets 103
14 Graphics 110
15 The writing process 117
16 Supervising writers 122
17 Designing a successful presentation 131
18 Organizing your presentation 137
19 Using examples 152
20 Remembering what to say 158
21 Choosing visual aids 169
22 Designing visual aids 182
23 Designing visual aids - further tips 200
24 Designing computer presentations 211
25 Involving your audience and using humor 219
26 Rehearsing 228
27 Setting up the room 235
28 Using effective techniques of delivery 243
29 Presenting visual aids 250
30 Handling questions and answers 263
31 Helping others speak better 271
Appendix A: Simpler words and phrases 277
Appendix B: Checklist for speakers 281
Appendix C: Checklist for setting up the room 283
Index 285
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