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!
- Contact us at email@example.com
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:
- Plain Writing Checklist | PDF
- Style Guide
- Top 10 Principles of Plain Language | PDF
- Plain Writing Tips
- Plain Language Toolkit for Managers and Supervisors
2. We've assigned staff to oversee our plain writing efforts:
- Senior Official for Plain Writing: Maria Carosa Stanwich
- Plain Writing Point of Contact: Mary Ryan
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
- explains how to comply with a National Archives requirement
4. We're engaging with our staff about the quality of their communications:
- 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.
- Our Plain Language Team advises staff about their content.
- National Archives staff provide quarterly progress reports based on a plain writing directive.
- National Archives staff are continually informed about plain writing through internal newsletter articles, an internal web page, and blog posts on plain writing.
- Our Plain Language Liaisons report on what staff in their units are doing to review and revise documents — view before/after examples.
5. We're consulting our customers about plain language:
- We use surveys, customer journey mapping, user interviews, user personas, and user testing among multiple audiences.
- We also use metrics and competitive analysis, A/B testing, heatmap usage data, and similar tools to identify customer top tasks.
6. We report our progress and compliance with the Plain Writing Act to the public in April of each year:
- 2022 Plain Language Compliance Report (dated April 2023)
- Previous Reports
- 2022 Plain Language Report Card
- 2021 Plain Language Report Card
- 2020 Plain Language Report Card
- 2019 Plain Language Report Card
- 2018 Plain Language Report Card
- 2017 Plain Language Report Card
- 2016 Plain Language Report Card
- 2015 Plain Language Report Card
- National Archives wasn't graded in 2013 and 2014
- 2012 Plain Language Report Card
- Our Plain Writing Implementation Plan - dated July 13, 2011
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."