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Once again, the Center for Plain Language will honor the best of plain language in original documents, revised documents, websites, legal language, and multimedia. We’ve streamlined the process this year to make it even easier to enter.
But why should you nominate an entry for a ClearMark Award?
Here are 6 good reasons: (more…)
Is your peanut butter safe? Is it safe to order drugs online? The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates products that we use everyday – food, human and animal drugs, dietary supplements, medical devices, vaccines, tobacco – the list sometimes seems endless.
The FDA shares information about these products every day, so it’s essential that they write clearly so you can understand and use their information easily to protect your health. (more…)
The first review since agencies were required to create plans for cutting the “bureaucrat-ese” from their dealings with the public found mixed results at many agencies. The Center for Plain Language, a group that advocates for clear writing in government documents, released a scorecard this week marking agency progress meeting requirements under the 2010 Plain Writing Act.
USDA Gets an “A;” VA Gets an “F” on First Plain Writing Act Report Card Released Today by the Center for Plain Language
Rep. Braley and the Center for Plain Language Release Report Card Grades at Telephone News Briefing
Washington, DC – The U.S. Department of Agriculture received an “A” and the Veterans’ Administration received an “F” on the first Plain Writing Act Report Card released today by the Center for Plain Language, a nonprofit organization dedicated to clear communication in government, business, non-profits, and universities. (more…)
For the past year, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, working with Kleimann Communications Group, has run extensive usability testing with consumers throughout the U.S. on the proposed new mortgage disclosure form. This form combines the original Truth in Lending disclosure and the Good Faith Estimate into a single three-page disclosure. Because purchasing a home is likely to be the most expensive and daunting purchase most of us will ever make, it’s critical that we receive clear, usable information that will allow us to compare rates from one lender to another and know exactly the fees we are paying. This new form will help us do that. (more…)
How well are federal agencies adhering to the Plain Writing Act? The Center for Plain Language is issuing a “report card” grading several federal agencies on how well they are implementing the Act. The results will be released at a telephone news briefing on Thursday, July 19, 12 noon, featuring Rep. Bruce Braley (IA), the main sponsor of the Act, and Annetta L. Cheek, PhD, chair of the Center for Plain Language, the nonprofit organization grading the federal agencies.
Joe Kimble, professor of law at Thomas M. Cooley Law School, has just finished his long awaited new book, Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please: The Case for Plain Language in Business, Government, and Law. Carolina Academic Press, which also published his earlier book Lifting the Fog of Legalese, is the publisher.
The book sets out the elements of plain language, debunks the 10 biggest myths about it, summarizes 40 historical highlights, and summarizes 50 (no less) studies on the benefits of plain language for everyone–readers, writers, businesses, and government agencies.
If you think America is shifting to a culture of transparency, unfortunately, you’re wrong: consumers are drowning in more fine print and byzantine disclosure language than ever before. Bank contracts and product manuals commonly bloat to hundreds of pages, in type as small as 1/6 of an inch.
Who reads this stuff? Almost nobody. And as this news clip from a CBS affiliate in Alabama reveals, that costs the average household about $3,000 a year.
Lawyers argue that excessive language is necessary to “protect consumers.” But until disclosures are presented in a form people actually read, they’re doing just the opposite: allowing organizations to bury unattractive terms in pages of jargon, while simultaneously shielding them from legal liability.
“Devil in the Details” by Shanisty Myers
Well, he doesn’t actually use the words “plain language,” but Ralph Nader has started an organization called Fair Contracts in which he warns people about what’s hidden in the fine print. He rails against corporations that hide behind obscure language, tiny fonts, and reams of paper no one can understand. In his usual fashion, he encourages consumers to take action against the “fine print.”
Listen to Ralph Nader.