Plain English for Editors (e-learning)

Plain English for Editors is ideal for any editor who would like to achieve a broad understanding of what plain English is for, the core guidelines, techniques and tools, and how to use them in a balanced and nuanced way.

About the course

Plain English for Editors explains what plain English is, gives you the skills to use plain-English editing guidelines with thought and care, and helps you to think through how to market your plain-English services. The course gets you thinking about what can make a text unclear; sets out the six core guidelines for plain-English editing; and gives you the opportunity to practise your new skills. 

What the course will teach you

Learn how to use guidelines on plain-English editing with thought and care, deal with challenges and market your services to potential clients.

By the time you’ve completed this training, you’ll understand:

  • what plain English is
  • what can make a text unclear and why
  • some background about the plain-English movement
  • the six core guidelines for plain-English editing
  • how tools in Word and other software can help to speed up some plain-English editing tasks and increase accuracy
  • the practicalities of providing plain-English editing services

Course contents

Unit 1: What can make a text unclear?

  • If plain English is the answer, what’s the question?

  • Background and resources

Unit 2: Guidelines and techniques

  • Keeping sentences to a manageable length

  • Editing for conciseness and directness

  • Checking grammar and punctuation but putting clarity first

  • Using words that readers know

  • Checking that the language is inclusive

  • Making sure that the material is organised and laid out clearly

  • Further plain-English considerations and guidelines round-up

Unit 3: Test your plain-English editing skills

  • A longer text on which to practise the skills learned in Units 1 and 2

Unit 4: Tools for plain-English editing

  • Tools in Microsoft Word

  • PerfectIt

  • Other programs designed to help people write clearly

Unit 5: Services and challenges

  • Providing plain-English services

  • Challenges and myths

What skills and tools do you need?

This course follows British English spelling, grammar and punctuation conventions in the main. You’ll also need:

  • basic copyediting knowledge
  • fluency in English
  • a knowledge of English grammar
  • familiarity with the functions of word processing programs – this course assumes use of MS Word (Office 365).


If you’re not a CIEP member, click the button below to sign up for this course.

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Prices, timescales and upgrade points

  • Member: £170 + VAT
  • Non-member: £280 + VAT
  • Access to course: 6 months
  • Approximate study time to complete: 30–35 hours
  • CIEP upgrade points: 4


Key course features

Structured training

Structured units cover a range of topics relevant to your chosen course.

Self-paced learning

With our e-learning courses, learn when you want at a pace that’s convenient for you.

Training portal

Access your course via our user-friendly online training portal. All e-learning courses are accessible through the portal for six months from the date of enrolment.

Extra help

Additional tutor support is available on our self-assessed courses for a small fee.

Self-assessed exercises

Hone your skills with self-assessed exercises and quizzes, and mark your own work against model answers.


Download, print and keep a certificate of completion once you’ve finished your course so you can demonstrate your commitment to CPD.


It was a great help to have all the core advice arranged into six 'guidelines' in one unit of the course, so I could absorb all of this before moving on to the main exercise and the units about software tools and providing services.



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