Now, the Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN) has created a website where government agencies can find plain language guidelines, training, and other resources designed to create simple communication products.
PLAIN is operated by a community of federal employees dedicated to the idea that citizens deserve clear communications from government and that using plain language saves federal agencies time and money — and provides better service to the American public.
Plain language (also called plain writing or plain English) is communication an audience can understand the first time they read or hear it.
The Plain Writing Act of 2010 defines plain language as:
Writing that is clear, concise, well-organized, and follows other best practices appropriate to the subject or field and intended audience.
Language that is plain to one set of readers may not be plain to others. Written material is in plain language if an audience can:
- Find what they need
- Understand what they find
- Use what they find to meet their needs
There are many techniques designed to achieve this goal of plain language. Among the most common are:
- Logical organization with the reader in mind
- Use of “you” and other pronouns
- Wording in active, not passive, voice
- Short sentences
- Common, everyday words
- Easy-to-read design features
PLAIN has developed templates, checklists, and in-depth writing guidelines to help government agencies develop communications in plain language.