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Promote Plain Language

Posted on by Cynthia Baur

Many of us speak plain language every day, but we know plain language isn’t often the everyday language of government, business, law and healthcare.  The Plain Writing Act of 2010 requires federal executive branch agencies to use plain language communication with the public. How can large, complex organizations like government agencies make plain language everyday practice?

One way is through the power of communication. Although agencies must tell their staff about the law’s requirements, we all know how easy it is for broadcast emails, memos and other notices to get lost in the workday flow of information. To get employees’ attention, the CDC Office of Communication created 4 materials – a checklist and 3 messages – to remind staff of key plain language techniques.

The plain language checklist is based on the training slides from PLAIN, the network of federal plain language trainers. The 3 messages focus on specific issues in our public communication. We encourage employees to eliminate jargon and unnecessary details and highlight main messages. These materials are free and available for anyone to use.   

Organizational practices won’t change until the people inside the organizations change. Communicating expectations and specific action steps should be part of every organization’s plain language strategy. Please share your stories of how you’ve created a plain language culture in your organization. And please let us know if our materials helped you.

Posted on by Cynthia Baur

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