A Checklist of Style Guides for the Department of the Interior Writer

All writers are bound by the rules of grammar. Creative writers have the freedom to make a wide range of stylistic decisions based upon their personal preferences and the goals of their artistic expressions. Scientific and technical writers need to write with more clarity and rely on style guides to help them produce it. The […]

The 18F Guide: The Government’s Latest (Insufficient) Attempt at Plain Language

Earlier this summer, government writers got another plain language “goose” when the Washington Post featured the government’s newest plain language guide, The 18F Content Guide. DC’s newspaper reporters were hopeful at this sign that government writers are taking the Plain Writing Act of 2010 seriously. The article lauds the handbook’s conversational tone and the sound, common sense […]

5 Consequences of the Plain Writing Act

It’s been four years since the Plain Writing Act was signed into law. Still, many Americans aren’t aware that government documents are supposed to clear and easy to understand. And an alarming number of government writers don’t have the resources they need to achieve this goal. As someone who provides writing training to government biologists, […]

Plain Language: A Division of Labor

Definitions of Plain Language on PlainLanguage.gov include those by legal writer Bryan Garner, scholar Robert Eagleson, software creator Nick Wright, technical communicator Beth Mazur, and essayist George Orwell. Such diversity illustrates the difficulty we have implementing plain language today. How should plain language practitioners define plain language and establish guidelines for its implementation with such […]

The Life-Altering Importance Of Plain Language

One day recently, somewhere in the US, a preschool boy was left on the bus after the morning ride to school for six hours, on his birthday. He was clear-eyed and quiet when he was found, still buckled into his seat, by his teachers. He may have had an accident with no access to the […]

Celebrate International Plain Language Day

~The secret of good writing is to strip every sentence to its cleanest component.~ William Zinsser – On Writing Well On October 13th, 2010, President Obama signed the Plain Writing Act of 2010. His pen strokes were not the culmination but the commencement of a labor shared by government entities around the world and transpiring […]