Summary of The Plain English Approach to Business Writing

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The Plain English Approach to Business Writing book summary
Many times, simple is best. This is certainly true when it comes to writing well.


8 Overall

9 Applicability

6 Innovation

7 Style


Much of what passes for business writing today is so convoluted and pompous that it is difficult to understand. Here’s an example: “Subsequent to the adoption of the latest employee policy regulations-cum-guidelines, it is incumbent upon (said) employees to rigorously review the current documentation; and to then advise (or at the minimum, contact) management regarding any perceived, needed exceptions....” How about this instead: “Please review the proposed guideline changes, and let us know if they make sense and support current policies. If not, we’ll change them.” Far too many people think they need to write business prose with grandiose words and phrases, passive voice, third person and past tense, when actually such practices muddle their messages. Into the business-writing breach comes Edward P. Bailey Jr., a master of composition, and an expert at teaching people to write and speak plainly and simply. Although even the professor lapses into dullness now and then, getAbstract thinks that anyone who wants to write – and thus communicate – more effectively can learn a lot from reading this short, sensible book.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What the “Plain English” business writing approach involves
  • Why active voice is better than passive voice
  • Why your writing should be concrete, not vague
  • How to use blueprints and executive summaries to improve your writing


“Plain English”
The first and most important rule of English composition is to write in order to communicate, not to impress. Plain English means expressing your ideas in a simple, clear fashion. Make your sentences easy to read and understand. Write as you speak. Get to the point. Introduce...
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About the Author

Edward P. Bailey Jr. teaches business communication at Marymount University. He is an expert on writing and public speaking.

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    Sam Roberts-Lea 3 months ago
    Interesting piece on Plain English with some good principles. It's a shame it doesn't follow suit (e.g. hardly any contractions etc.).

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