USA passes Plain Writing Act 2010
On 13th October, President Barack Obama signed the Plain Writing Act 2010, which will require the federal government to write all new publications, forms, and publicly distributed documents in a ‘clear, concise, well-organised’ manner that follows the best practice of plain language writing.
The Act defines ‘plain writing’ as:
‘writing that the intended audience can readily understand and use because that writing is clear, concise, well-organized, and follows other best practices of plain writing.’
It covers any document that:
- is relevant to obtaining any Federal Government benefit or service or filing taxes;
- provides information about any Federal Government benefit or service; or
- explains to the public how to comply with a requirement the Federal Government administers or enforces;
- includes (whether in paper or electronic form) a letter, publication, form, notice, or instruction; and
- does not include a regulation.
The Center for Plain Language will play a role in determining the standards for plain language, testing documents and creating models, and helping agencies understand that the changes will, in the long run, save time, money, and public frustration. Every agency must comply within a year.