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Sunday, April 14, 2013

'Citizens deserve clear communications from government' | Federal Plain Language Guidelines

The guidelines provided here are produced by and for employees of the U.S. federal government. But I recommend the advice in them for people who want to write and edit clearly and concisely in all fields--from health care, engineering and law to education, social service and business. 

You can read the guidelines on the Web or download them as PDF and Word files.

The guidelines Introduction begins:
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 first developed this document in the mid-90s. We continue to revise it every few years to provide updated advice on clear communication. We hope you find this document useful, and that it helps you improve your writing — and your agency’s writing — so your users can
  • find what they need,
  • understand what they find; and
  • use what they find to meet their needs.
Also, I provide more advice and information on plain language at Garbl's Pain English Writing Guide. It covers the process in seven steps:

  • Focusing on your reader and purpose
  • Organizing your ideas
  • Writing clear, effective paragraphs
  • Writing clear, simple sentences
  • Using suitable words
  • Creating an enticing design
  • Testing for clarity.
The federal guidelines are featured in the April 14 issue of my daily online paper, Garbl's Plain English Paragraphs, available at the Plain Language tab above and by free email subscription.

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