What is Plain Language?

Plain language is information that is focused on readers. When you write in plain language, you create information that works well for the people who use it, whether online or in print.

Our measure of plain language is behavioral: Can the people who are the audience for the material quickly and easily

  • find what they need
  • understand what they find
  • act appropriately on that understanding

This means that the definition of “plain” depends on the audience. What is plain language for one audience may not be plain language for another audience.

Plain language is more than just short words and short sentences — although those are often two very important guidelines for plain language. When you create information in plain language, you also organize it logically for the audience. You consider how well the layout of your pages or screens works for the audience.

For more information about plain language:

Center for Plain Language (centerforplainlanguage.org)


Printed April 18, 2014


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