Writing in Clear Language - For Managers and Administrators (New Course)

Course duration: 3 hours x 2 sessions (July 14 & 26 - both sessions are from 9am - 12pm)
Facilitator/Instructor: Dr. Lawrence Aspler
Audience: Supervisors, Managers
Course description

How much time do you spend trying to decipher the meaning of documents written in a style that is complex, obtuse, or jargon filled? Inadequate writing reflects poorly on the author. It also damages the credibility of the organization the author represents.

Continuously exposed to poor writing from government, academia, business, and social media, we quickly fall into bad writing habits. Do you want people to read what you write? Do you want to be understood? Do you want to be taken seriously? Do you want your ideas acted on?

This course, offered in two morning sessions, will improve your ability to recognize and overcome weaknesses in your own work. We start by examining the basic differences between good and bad writing. Through presentations, readings, discussions, and exercises, we confront obstacles you may face while preparing logically structured, clear, and credible documents written in plain English. We then turn to proper grammar, punctuation, and word choices (eliminating nominalizations, euphemisms, bloated words, plastic words, and buzzwords), and correct use of the active voice. We continue by looking at errors that writers commonly make, emphasizing the importance of self-editing, giving and receiving criticism with grace, and revising work based on the comments of others. Evaluating current trends in information literacy, we then examine how becoming a better writer can help you become a more critical reader; one who appreciates the devices used to prop up weak arguments. Finally, we examine how graphics can enhance retention of the written word, and close by considering special-purpose writing (e.g., email, web, briefing notes, project proposals, funding requests, employee reviews, summaries of research by others, letters of recommendation, marketing materials).

One week before the first session, you will be asked to send a sample of work-related writing to the instructor. Based on comments to this first draft, and material gained from the first session, you will then be asked for a second draft, which will also be reviewed.

 Thirty-minute coaching sessions with the instructor will be offered at the end of the course.


  • this course is to be taken in two blocks of 3 hours and you must be able to attend both sessions to register.
  • Session 1 - July 14 - 9-12
  • Session 2 - July 26 - 9-12

Dr. Aspler has taught at Carleton University, State University of New York (Potsdam), and Grinnell College. He serves on the editorial board of two international, peer-reviewed journals and is currently Science Editor at the British Columbia Geological Survey.