Using Plain Language in Government
The Plain Language Action & Information Network (PLAIN) is a government-wide group of volunteers working to improve communications from the federal government to the public. We believe better communication will increase trust in government, reduce government costs, and reduce the burden on the public.
People should understand what we write the first time they read it, especially materials that tell people how to obtain benefits or comply with requirements. This website contains many resources to help writers achieve the goal of clear communication. If you want more information about us, or if your agency needs our assistance, contact us.
Federal Plain Language Guidelines is our major guidance document to help you write plain language documents that your readers understand on first reading. We developed this document with the help of several private-sector partners.
If you write regulations for a government agency, you publish them in the Federal Register. The Office of the Federal Register now strongly supports plain language. That support comes through clearly in the most recent version of their Document Drafting Handbook. Here are some important links to the Register's site. There are more Federal Register links in the Reference Library.
If you write for a government agency and need help with emphasis in letters and other non-regulatory documents, we recommend a short guidance document prepared by the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA): Guidelines for Using Layout and Typography to Create Effective Emphasis.
Here's another helpful document from VBA. It discusses different ways to test your documents: Testing Your Document