Portfolio+clients

We work with some clients in an ongoing way, providing general plain communications strategy, analysis and writing whenever it’s needed. With others, we work on a per-project basis. In most cases, you will work directly with Carlyn, with other specialists pulled in where required. Most of our clients are referred to us by other regular clients.

Selected client list

  • St. Christopher House
  • Open Medicine
  • Education Through Media
  • Maquila Solidarity Network
  • Gender at Work
  • Amelia Rising Sexual Assault Centre of Nipissing
  • Visions of Science
  • Na-Me-Res
  • Voices for Children (communications director) *among other work, produced plain language version of proposed legislation for contract with Ontario’s Provincial Advocate for Children & Youth
  • Association for Women’s Rights in Development (staff)
  • Canadian Crossroads International
  • U-ACT (Urban Aboriginal Communities Thrive) Community Research Project
  • Clay & Paper Theatre
  • Central Neighbourhood House
  • Workers’ Action Centre/Ontario Employment Education & Resource Centre
  • Blackline Law
  • Tenant Vote (a City of Toronto public education project)
  • Katrina Onstad, writer
  • Xiaolan Health Centre
  • Mennonite New Life Centre-Toronto
  • International Development & Relief Foundation
  • Between the Lines press
  • 4info.net
  • Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists-Ontario Chapter
  • Canadian Geographic
  • NOW magazine
  • The Globe & Mail
  • The Toronto Star
  • Our Times
  • Canadian Dimension
  • …as sub-contractor, projects with each of the Toronto municipal, Ontario provincial and Canada federal governments.

Examples of Carlyn’s plain language writing

Web + social media:

  • The lawyer client who hired us to write the web copy for her new business, The Trade Mark Shop, wanted to distinguish herself from competitors with a sharp, hip style. At the same time, she needed to integrate sections that called for promotional language with sections that explain the basics of trade mark law for a general audience. This required Carlyn to balance the demands of plain language with those of marketing.
  • Gender at Work’s original website was highly abstract, wordy and full of insider and academic jargon. We simplified and lightened up the text without losing the original content. Strategies used included breaking up convoluted paragraphs into clean bullet points, shortening sentences and using em-dashes for emphasis.
  • The Workers’ Action Centre needs to engage their members, who have varying levels of English fluency, literacy and political understanding. Given that, text for website updates, backgrounders, emailed action alerts, and Tweets must be easy to understand without dumbing down the issues, and it must be equally suitable for blue-collar, newcomer workers and media professionals. It must reach out in a friendly way to potential participants. It must also provide enough background without losing its insistent focus on action.

We create original plain language web copy and consult on website information design  for clarity. We also create plain language social media content including blog postings, text message alerts, Facebook updates, e-newsletter on various platforms (Mailchimp, for example) and Twitter feeds.

Print:

  • I carried out a plain language edit of this training manual for internationally-educated psychologists in Canada (Mennonite New Life Centre-Toronto).
  • I conducted a plain language rewrite of Problems and Development Opportunities in International Water & Sanitation: Analytical Report (International Development & Relief Foundation and Harbinger Foundation). For this project, I took six reports written by in-country consultants in Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Ethiopia, Uganda and Sudan. Although the reports were written in English, in most cases this was the consultant’s second language. The reports describe highly technical sewage, sanitation and hygiene issues. The language was both technical and often incomprehensible, with curious turns of phrases, odd grammatical constructs and logically confusing statements. I rewrote the entire text of the reports into clear, grammatical and idiomatically correct English, and at the same time translated technical language into language that described the issues in a way that could be understood by any educated, English-speaking reader. This report is not available online—please contact us to view a hard copy.
  • I rewrote actual proposed legislation—dense text rife with highly legal and complex terminology—in a plain language version in order for children who would be affected by the legislation to be able to learn about what was proposed and what impact it could have on them. This involved using simpler language, explaining complex concepts, reducing content to the most critical ideas, and strategically employing white space and illustration. This final document, illustrated by a young artist in a deliberately ‘childish’ style, was used to prepare young people for a public consultation process. In the end, youth input resulted in radical changes to the proposed legislation. Ultimately, the plain language-facilitated youth input resulted in the creation of an independent child and youth advocate for Ontario.
  • The challenge in writing the annual report for Amelia Rising Sexual Assault Centre of Nipissing was to put the executive director’s complicated ideas into simple concepts with a logical flow. Contact us to view a PDF of this document if you like. Here is another annual report I wrote. And here is a newsletter featuring full-length articles. These  pieces combine factual reporting, interviews and clear expression to achieve both promotional and informational goals.
  • Finally, another piece that is not strictly plain language—rather, it’s a feature magazine article on the topic of citizen science. The principles of visually appealing storytelling and evocative language carry over to the plain language work I do.
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