Plain Language Writing

Plain language writing is reader-focused writing. But what makes something plain language? The Center for Plain Language defines “plain” in terms of people’s behavior: Can the people who are theaudience for the material quickly and easily: find what they need understand what they find act appropriately on that understanding?

In 1998, President Clinton made plain language a major government initiative. He wrote:

“By using plain language, we send a clear message about what the government is doing, what it requires, and what services it offers…. Plain language documents have logical organization; common, everyday words, except for necessary technical terms; ‘you’ and other pronouns; the active voice; and short sentences.”

Today, all of us who write can find immediate guidance on the principles of plain language at the government’s website called The issue of NASET’s Practical Teacher is a tip-sheet that comes directly from its how-to’s, tools, checklists, and examples, sometimes even verbatim.

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