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Plain Language/Design

Early in his career, David developed a lasting interest in plain writing and information design.

This led to a focus on many projects involving how clearer writing and design can create a better world, including a paper for the Prime Minister’s office on a system to republish the laws of Canada using plain writing and design.

Proudly, as of Spring 2011, the first legislation has been published following our recommendations. Though many compromises had to occur along the way, we’re proud to have reached this point. Here is one example of the legislation published in the new format (PDF, limited accessibility, link will open in a new tab). You can see more by visiting the Justice Laws Website.

Notable assignments involving plain design include:

  • Growing Forward/ Environment Farm Plan for Ontario Soil & Crop Improvement Association / OMAFRA / Agriculture Canada
  • Research and development of wording for toxicity messaging for tobacco packaging for Health Canada
  • Pilot project for the redesign of Canadian legislation, for Justice Canada, including design and usability testing, resulting in the first pieces of legislation published in the new format in Spring 2011
  • Publications for the Region of Ottawa-Carleton and the Ontario Literacy Coalition
  • Forms redesign for the Growing Your Farm Profits program, Government of Ontario
  • Keynote speeches, training, and presentations in many cities, including for Aalto University in Helsinki on plain language and clearer legislation design
  • Many projects regarding Web Accessibility and plain writing, for governments and the private sector, in 4 countries.

Supporting material(s):

Toward a New Format for Canadian Legislation by David Berman PDF icon [701 KB]

Results of Usability Testing Research on Plain Language Draft Sections of the Employment Insurance Act PDF icon [307 KB]

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Reviewed October 4, 2011

9 Responses to “Plain Language/Design”

  1. Meghan says:

    Hi David,
    I’m very interested in the work you do regarding plain language drafting. In your bio above it states that the first legislation was published using your recommendations in Spring of 2011 and then you point to hyperlinks with examples of that legislation.
    Unfortunately those hyperlinks aren’t working. Is there any chance you could tell me what those pieces of legislation are?
    Cheers and again, love the work you do!
    Meghan

    • David Berman says:

      Hi Meghan,
      Thank you for catching those two links on the federal government site that are no longer active. We’ll find out what the new URLs are to those resources, update them, then tell you when we’ve done so.

  2. Craig says:

    Hi David. In your whitepaper ‘Toward a New Format for Canadian Legislation’ you mentioned the possibility of legal diagrams. Do such diagrams currently exist? I’d love to see them. It seems there has been a lot of work done in information design for quantitative and geographical information, but less so for more abstract information, like law and financial concepts. I’ve been searching these areas for any scraps I can find, love to hear if you know of anything.

    Craig

    • David Berman says:

      Hi Craig. Thank you for your interest. Indeed I did mention the possibility of legal diagrams. I have some samples that I showed in a presentation I made in Finland. I could likely share a pdf of that with you… perhaps I could even share that online.

      • Craig says:

        Hi David. I’d encourage you to post.. I think it’s an unexplored area that people don’t see every day.
        Thanks!
        C

  3. Tony Lai says:

    Hi there. I really admire your typography works David. Although I do not have a full online portfolio, but I’ve recently created an online shirt company if you would like to review my works. [JLNT.spreadshirt.com].
    I am seeking possible employment or freelance work collaboration if possible. 😀
    I will work for peanuts… well almost LOL

    Tony

    • David Berman says:

      Hi Tony. First of all, I love the spreadshirt.com brand… and I also really enjoy how accessible the site is for disabilities! Would be great to a have a line of Do Good Design clothing that had messages that urge people to do good!


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