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Online plain English phrase book

The online phrase book is an essential guide for anyone who wants to write in plain English. It's a bit like a dictionary or thesaurus, but gives plain English 'translations' for hundreds of complex or bureaucratic words and phrases. There is also lots of advice on how to use our suggestions.

What's more, if you can't find the word or phrase you're looking for you can email us and we'll reply with our suggestions. Then we'll add the new information to the phrase book so that everyone can benefit. In this way the phrase book will keep growing, becoming an ever-more-useful resource.*

The phrase book isn't just a random collection of words. We've trawled through many of the documents we've edited over the years, looking for the words and phrases we have to edit most often. So we know that these words are the ones that writers tend to use instead of the ordinary, everyday words that readers prefer. We are sure this makes the phrase book much more relevant and helpful.

We've also included the words we find writers most often confuse: 'affect' and 'effect', 'complement' and 'compliment', 'fewer' and 'less', 'principal' and 'principle' and so on. We explain the difference between them and give examples of how to use them correctly.

How it works

You can either buy the phrase book for your own use, or you can have it for your work group or intranet. Either way, you subscribe to the phrase book and we will send you updates (roughly once a month) for as long as your subscription lasts. Your subscription also gives you automatic access to a 'mobile-friendly' version of the phrase book.

Look at a free sample of the phrase book.

Subscribing for yourself

It's only 9.97 to subscribe to the phrase book for one year. We will remind you when your subscription is due to run out, but there's no obligation to renew. You can order by credit card, debit card or PayPal. Or, if you are in the UK and your organisation is going to pay, you can order here and we will start your subscription and send you an invoice. Just tell us your name, your organisation and the invoice address. (Our refunds policy.)

Subscribing for a work group or to install on an intranet

It costs just 297 for a year's subscription. We will send you the files for the phrase book on CD or by email. We'll send you the monthly updates by email. You can order here. Just tell us your name, your organisation and the invoice address.

* We cannot help with specialised or job-specific terms, for example: legal, medical, accounting, engineering and so on. To see the types of words the phrase book includes see the free sample.

Having problems signing up?

© The Word Centre

Look at a free sample of the plain English phrase book.

Look at a free sample of the plain English phrase book.

Subscribe to our online plain English phrase book