Plain Language/Writing for the Web

What It Is

Plain Language is a best practice for managing your agency’s website. You should use plain language in writing your website. Plain language means using words that the website's typical visitor can understand the first time.

Specific Requirements

Agencies must simplify and test federal forms (PDF, 94 KB, 2 pages, August 2012), according to an August 9, 2012, OMB memo.

In 2011, OMB published Final Guidance (PDF, 269 KB, 6 pages, April 2011) to help agencies implement the Plain Writing Act of 2010 (PDF, 153 KB, 3 pages, September 2010). The law requires agencies to write documents and websites in plain language. In addition, in his January 21, 2009 Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government, President Obama emphasized the importance of establishing "a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration."

How to Implement

  • Create a review plan:
    • Identify your most accessed (top task) content.
    • Rewrite your new and top task content to meet plain writing requirements. Does it follow this checklist? (PDF, 181 KB, 1 page, August 2011)
  • If it applies to your agency, learn how to write regulations (PDF, 405 KB, 56 pages, November 2010) in plain language.

Resources

Examples

 

Review the Plain Writing Act of 2010: Agency Requirements page.

 


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Content Lead: Andrea Sigritz
Page Reviewed/Updated: June 18, 2013

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