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Recent posts:


Clear Content: Every written word represents your university brand

I expect 99.9% of the public wouldn’t understand this information on a university website explaining (I think) that the owner of content on a website is responsible for that content. I bet you thought “assets” meant “money,” but this information comes from the IT unit. “Assets” means web content. To be fair, the intended audience likely is IT people, so perhaps the language is appropriate for them. Perhaps.


Why should you care about bad forms?

People from all income and education levels are intimidated by poorly designed and ill-conceived forms and notices. In many other projects that we’ve undertaken over the years — from simplifying bankruptcy forms to tax forms, school enrollment forms, credit card statements, insurance applications, and program-related forms — the findings are consistent. The organizations may be different, but the problems remain the same.

FDA logo

Making decisions for your health: Getting the info you need

When your doctor prescribes a medication for your child, do you know what the correct dosage is or how to measure it?

Are you comfortable asking your doctor questions when you receive a lab report and don’t understand the results?

If you can answer “yes” to these questions, you might have high health literacy, says Jodi Duckhorn, a social scientist and Director of Risk Communications at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Duckhorn’s team is responsible for making sure that messages FDA sends out are understandable to their intended target audiences—a key component of health literacy.


Because I said so: A video from Baltimore Sun’s editor, John McIntyre

The Chicago Manual of Style does not like the pronoun “s/he,” and they don’t like “he or she” too much, either. They prefer constructions that are gender neutral. But for definitive guidance – and a few giggles – hear what the Baltimore Sun’s editor, John McIntyre, has to say on this topic.

2015 Report Card

Federal Plain Language Report Card

This year the Center is taking a slightly different direction with our annual assessment of government writing: We are grading forms. Or should I say “We are grading Forms!!”—yes, this is exciting! (I don’t imagine, however, that all of the government agencies are as excited about this direction as we are at the Center).