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New Law Calls for Writing in Plain English

June 1, 2011
Plain English Version

President Obama signed the Plain Writing Act into law in 2010. A federal agency published rules on how to implement the law in April 2011.

The federal instructions are six pages long. It states:

As defined in the Act, “plain writing is writing that is clear, concise, well-organized, and consistent with other best practices appropriate to the subject or field and intended audience. Such writing avoids jargon, redundancy, ambiguity, and obscurity.”

Most professionals in the government said it would take years to make the law work. They said writing rules requires precise language. Courts look at the meaning of words. Simplifying the writing may make it difficult to understand exact meaning.

Others say that bureaucrats write for other bureaucrats, not for the public. Critics say that language written for the public to understand must be clear.

The Washington Post


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