Plain Language in Regulations and Policy

Date: Friday, October 21, 2011
Presenter: John A. Strylowski, DOI

On-Demand Webinar

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Regulations tell Americans how to get benefits, how to meet safety standards, and how to pay their taxes. Regulations that are unclear or unreadable make work for the reader and for the agency that issues them. Writing all our regulations in a clear and easily readable style would result in a tremendous savings of time and effort for the federal government and for citizens affected by them. Regulations don’t have to be written in "legalese." Don’t let anyone convince you that outmoded forms of language are needed in regulations. Plain language works for regulations just as it does for other important forms of written communication.

What You'll Learn

  • The three executive orders that require plain language in regulations
  • Selected principles of plain language and how they apply to regulations
  • What prominent experts in legal drafting have to say about plain language

Participants will leave with a list of further resources for plain-language regulations.

About the Presenter

John Strylowski has over 30 years experience writing and reviewing regulations and directives for federal agencies. He has even more experience as the victim of poorly written and baffling material. For these reasons, John is a long-time member of the Plain Language Action and Information Network and a founding board member of the Center for Plain Language.
Since the 1990s John has developed and conducted training for writers at over 25 federal agencies, the State of New Jersey, and the Province of Ontario. He also has collaborated on handbooks and directives for government writers. Some of his recent projects include completely revising the Department of the Interior’s Freedom of Information Act regulations and reorganizing regulations for the National Park Service. 
John Strylowski has a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin and an M.A. from the Catholic University of America. After leaving undergraduate school, he spent 2 years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Brazil. Since then he has worked for three federal agencies as a management and regulatory analyst. He has also served a term as an elected Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in the District of Columbia.


Content Lead: DigitalGov University Team
Page Reviewed/Updated: August 14, 2013

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