Open Government at the National Archives

Selected Comments from the Archives.gov ACSI Survey

  • Outstanding content and quality of content.
  • Easy access to the information that I needed.
  • Clarity and excellent thought that went into presentation.
  • The ease of navigating and reading the information, you've done a great job - THANKS!.

Plain Writing at the National Archives

The National Archives is committed to improving our service to the public. We will use plain language in all our communications so that the public can easily understand them. You can help us comply with the Plain Writing Act!

How You Can Help

If you have suggestions on ways to improve our documents and/or website, we'd like to hear from you!

Please include the URL of the web page or the name of the document, and we will work to make it easier for you to:

  • find what you need
  • understand what you read
  • use it the first time you read it
  • accomplish your task

How are we meeting the goals of the Plain Writing Act?

  1. Our Working Group developed these tools to help employees use plain language:

    National Archives staff are continually informed about plain writing through internal newsletter articles, an internal web page, weekly writing tips, and blog posts on plain writing.

  2. We've assigned staff to oversee our plain writing efforts:

  3. We're training our staff to use plain language in any document that:

    • provides information about any of our services and benefits;
    • is necessary to obtain any of our benefits or services; or
    • explains how to comply with a National Archives requirement.

    National Archives employees — including archivists, contract officers, education staff, exhibit specialists, press officers, supervisors — who write or edit public information take a plain writing course.

    We offer training throughout the year. The types of training and number of employees who completed the courses are:
    Type of plain writing training Webinars Online training Instructor-led training
    Number of employees trained from April to December 2012 10 713 50
    Number of employees trained in 2013 35 129 66
  4. We're giving and getting feedback from staff about plain language:
    • National Archives staff provide quarterly progress reports based on a plain writing directive.

    • The Plain Writing Team advises staff about their content.

    • View Before and After examples.

  5. We're consulting our customers about plain language:

    We use surveys to ask readers if our use of plain writing has improved their experience with the National Archives, and analyze the survey results annually.

    On Archives.gov, we use the ACSI Customer Satisfaction Survey, which includes plain language specific questions, to measure customer satisfaction.

    Plain Language Questions (1-10 scale):
    • Please rate the clarity of the wording on Archives.gov.
    • Please rate how well you understand the wording on Archives.gov.
    • Please rate Archives.gov on its use of short, clear sentences.
    We review and post data online from the survey each month:
    • The current Archives.gov Content Satisfaction score is 77 out of 100 (Source:   April 2013 - March 2014 Content Satisfaction average score)
    • View more Archives.gov Metrics

    Center for Plain Language ClearMark Awards

    The ClearMark Awards are given to the best plain language documents and web sites.

    The National Archives redesigned website was selected as a winner in the Website / Dynamic Media: Public Sector category at the 2011 ClearMark Awards.

  6. We'll report our progress and compliance with the Plain Writing Act to Congress and the public by April 13 each year:

    You can download and view a copy of our reports below:

    View how we're doing:

What is the Plain Writing Act?

The Plain Writing Act of 2010 requires federal agencies to write "clear Government communication that the public can understand and use."

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