Monday, January 18, 2016

Writing in Plain Language, Part 1: The Need

Plain language is here to stay. Philosophers and rhetoricians have studied plain language for centuries. Industry and government have tried with varying degrees of success to enact plain language initiatives since at least the early 1970s.
 On October 10, 2010, it became US law when the federal government passed Public Law 111-274, the Plain Writing Act of 2010, “to improve the effectiveness and accountability of Federal agencies to the public by promoting clear Government communication that the public can understand and use.”

Plain language improves clarity for readers regardless of their first language by making English documents easier to translate into other languages. On July 22, 2008, Executive Order 120 required New York City agencies “to provide opportunities for Limited English speakers to communicate and receive services. On October 6, 20111, Executive Order 26 directed New York State agencies to “to provide language assistance to people of Limited English Proficiency.

Since plain language is an initiative on federal and local levels of the United States, and because government agencies have been asking me to design plain language instructional programs for their staff, I will devote numerous posts to plain language tips.