Plain language makes it easier for the public to read, understand, and use government communications.Learn more
Law and requirements
Learn about the Plain Writing Act, policy memos, and executive orders that require agencies to use plain language.
Plain language guidelines
Official writing guidelines for understanding your audience, being clear and concise, and testing your content.
May 13, 2020
Over 50% of U.S. adults score below an international benchmark for literacy, with roughly 20% scoring at the very lowest levels of literacy. These adults cross all demographics and are, therefore, represented in any audience for whom you may be writing.
When communicating with the public, we must change our assumptions about their ability to comprehend text. This is especially true when the information keeps changing, is complex, or the stakes are high and people are in crisis.
This presentation will discuss some of the most recent findings about the literacy skills of U.S. adults, including digital literacy and the implications for communicating with the public. We will review research that suggests what may be particularly problematic for readers and what might be helpful.
During this session, we will also explore timely examples of materials and how to make them even clearer by writing for those who may struggle most.
The Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN) is a community of federal employees dedicated to the idea that citizens deserve clear communications from government. We believe that using plain language saves federal agencies time and money and provides better service to the American public.
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