Belated happy International Plain Language Day!

The National Institutes of Health says, “Writing that is clear and to the point helps improve communication and takes less time to read and understand. Clear writing tells the reader exactly what the reader needs to know without using unnecessary words or expressions.”

On October 13, 2010, former President Obama signed into law the Plain Writing Act of 2010.  The law requires that federal agencies use clear government communication that the public can understand and use. International Plain Language Day is observed annually on October 13 to commemorate the signing of the law.

The Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN) is an unfunded working group of federal employees from different agencies and specialties who support the use of clear communication in government writing. Among the many resources PLAIN makes available that can be broadly applied are a checklist for plain language and a checklist for plain language on the web.

With regard to digital content, the University of Minnesota’s Office of Information Technology Organization has tips for using plain language at Digital Content: Use Plain Language.

Additionally, University Public Relations shared helpful plain writing tips in your communications, including examples of plain language swaps, in this post from last May: Plain language (and why you should use it). These tips are:

  • Avoid jargon and acronyms.
  • Use the present tense and active voice.
  • Define your audience.
  • Be concise.
  • Organize the information.
  • Make it readable.

If you have ideas for best practices in using plain language, please feel free to share them in the comments field below.