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Writing for the Web/Plain Language

What It Is

Writing for the Web is a best practice for managing your agency’s website. You should use plain language in writing your website. Plain language is words the website's typical visitor can understand.

Why It’s Important

Websites are based on words–the words you choose and the way you organize them. If your website is written poorly, you will not communicate effectively. You waste the reader's time, fail to achieve your purpose, and provide poor customer service.

Specific Legal, Policy or Other Requirements for Doing This

OMB Policies for Federal Public Websites require agencies to (#1A) “to disseminate information to the public in a timely, equitable, efficient and appropriate manner” and (#2A) “maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information and services provided to the public.” By using plain language, you’ll communicate with your audiences more efficiently and your content will be more useful to them.

How to Implement

  • Know your audience and write for them.
  • For federal public websites, assume that at least one of your audiences for your homepage and major entry points is the general public.
  • When writing for multiple audiences, tailor your writing to the audience with the least expertise.
  • Review your homepages, major entry points, and navigational elements to ensure they are written in plain language, for the general public.
  • Use language tools, including language software, to evaluate the readability of the website's content.
  • Test your writing with typical visitors.



Many federal public websites follow this best practice. This practice is part of the guidelines and best practices published by the Interagency Committee on Government Information to aid agencies' implementation of OMB Policies for Public Websites.


Page Updated or Reviewed: May 21, 2008

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