LANGUAGE IN GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION”
Plain Language in Government Administration
Plain language (also called plain writing or plain
English) is communication our audience can understand the first time they read
or hear it.
The “Plain Writing act” defines plain language as:
Writing that is clear,
concise, well-organized, and follows other best practices appropriate to the
subject or field and intended audience.
Language that is plain to one set of readers
may not be plain to others. Written material is in plain language if our
Find what they need
Understand what they find
what they find to meet their needs
There are many techniques that can help us to
achieve this goal. Among the most common are:
Logical organization with the
reader in mind
“You” and other pronouns
Common, everyday words
use plain language?
We’re all busy people. We don’t want to waste
a lot of time “translating” difficult and wordy documents. Plain language
writing saves time. If we save time, we save money. Plain language is good
customer service and makes life easier for the public.
Plain language means readers understand our
documents more quickly. Readers call less often for explanations. They make
fewer errors filling out forms. They comply more accurately and quickly with
requirements. If your customers don’t understand your documents, you may have
Answer phone calls
Write explanatory letters
Write an explanatory document
Though no one knows the total cost of poor
communication, the information we do have suggests it’s high. Writing in plain
language isn’t easy, but it pays off in positive results.
The American public deserves plain language
communication from its government. The benefits of plain language are both
tangible and intangible:
Plain language gets your
message across in the shortest time possible.
More people are able to
understand your message.
is less chance that your document will be misunderstood, so you spend less
time explaining it to people. And if your document gives instructions,
your readers are more likely to understand them and follow them correctly.
Many studies have shown that plain language
affects your bottom line—you can save time, personnel resources, and money. And
you will give better service to your readers
of Plain Language
This program promotes efficient water use in homes and
businesses throughout the country by offering a simple way to make purchasing
decisions that conserve water without sacrificing quality or product
This program helps homeowners and businesses buy products
that use less water without sacrificing quality or performance.
Guidelines for writing Plain Language
Write for our
Choose words carefully
GOVT Policies & Procedures in Plain Language
The first major push to
reform bureaucratic writing in US came in 1998 during the period of president Clinton.
His memo declared that the Federal GOVT’s
writing must be written in Plain language. Richard Nixon wants the
Federal register, which publishes regulations and notices to be written in
layman’s terms. Jimmy Carter ordered
that GOVT regulations are to be easily
understood by those who are required to comply with them. But Clinton GOVT went
at plain language in a big way.
Governments and private organizations around
the world support plain language. Many of these programs have been in place for
much longer than our effort here in the United States.
international’ includes professionals who plan, write, design, and create
communications projects to better serve the needs of the public, clients,
customers, students, and staff. Their site provides free plain language
articles, writing tutorials, Web links, news, networking opportunities,
professional support, and an e-mail discussion group.
‘Clarity’ is a worldwide group of lawyers and
interested lay people. Its aim is the use of good, clear language by the legal
Sweden has one of
the oldest programs. It’s managed by the Ministry of Justice. Even bills headed
to the legislature go through plain language editing. In fall 2004, a
representative of the Ministry of Justice spoke at the kickoff of Mexico’s new
plain language program:
The United Kingdom has government and private
sector support for plain language:
o Plain English is mandatory for all of the writing on
o ‘The plain Language Commision’ accredits public
documents and websites with the Clear English Standard logo and provides
training in plain language.
o The Plain English Campaign is an independent
pressure group fighting for public information to be written in plain English
In Australia, plain
language has become a commercial success. Demand for clear language has
increased, and law firms that provide plain language legal products are finding
success. Two leading sources of plain language legal expertise are cleardocs and
Commission has created a guide for writing clearly in several
government has announced a new program, SIMPLEGIS, with the goal of
simplifying its legal system and make it clearer, allowing people and
businesses have more certainty, security, and clarity in the rules that apply