Center for Plain Language Announces that President Obama Has Signed the Plain Writing of Act of 2010


For Release: October 14, 2010
Contact: Sheri Singer

Act requires federal government to write documents in simple language

Silver Spring, MD – As a long-time advocate for plain writing, the Center for Plain Language ( is delighted to announce that President Obama has signed the Plain Writing Act of 2010. The bill requires the federal government to write documents, such as tax returns, federal college aid applications, and Veterans Administration forms in simple language. The Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives in March and the Senate in September.

“This is a triumphant moment for all those who support plain language use,” said Annetta Cheek, PhD, Chair, Board of Directors, the Center for Plain Language. “The Act defines plain writing as writing that the audience can understand and use because it is clear, concise, well-organized, and follows other best practices of plain writing.”

The Center is grateful to Rep. Bruce Braley (Iowa) and Senator Daniel K. Akaka (Hawaii) for their leadership in getting the Act passed.

“The Plain Writing Act requires a simple change to business-as-usual that’ll make a big difference for anyone who’s ever filled out a tax return or received a government document,” said Representative Braley. “This bill shows what bipartisanship can accomplish when we put aside our differences and work together for the common good. Writing government documents in plain language will increase government accountability and will save Americans time and money. Plain, straightforward language makes it easy for taxpayers to understand what the federal government is doing and what services it is offering.”

The Act improves the effectiveness and accountability of Federal government by promoting clear government communication that the public can understand and use.

“Americans lose time and money because government instructions, forms, and other documents are too complicated,” said Senator Akaka. “The Plain Writing Act requires agencies to write documents which are clear, well organized, and understandable, leading to fewer customer service questions and increased compliance, making the government more efficient.”

The Center for Plain Language is a nonprofit organization comprised of individuals who encourage the use of clear, concise language in business and government.
“With so many new laws and regulations coming out of Washington, this Act is vital to making government serve the American people. It is a huge step forward,” said John Spotila, Chief Executive Officer of R3i Solutions, a Center board member and former Administrator of OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. “Working together from start to finish will continue to be the key to our success.”

For more information about the Center’s work or mission, or to join or support the Center, go to

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Example #1: Medicare Fraud Letter:

Example #2: FDA drug warning label:

Example #3: IRS form

About the Center for Plain Language

The Center for Plain Language has long supported the Plain Writing Act of 2010. The D.C.-based Center is a nonprofit organization that wants government and business documents to be clear and understandable. The Center supports those who use plain language, trains those who should use plain language, and urges people to demand plain language in all the documents they receive, read, and use.

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Printed April 20, 2014


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