Open Government at the National Archives

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:

    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.
    • 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.
  4. We're engaging with our staff about the quality of their communications:
    • Our Plain Language Team advises staff about their content.
    • National Archives staff provide quarterly progress reports based on a plain writing directive.
    • Our Plain Language Liaisons report on what staff in their units are doing to review and revise documents.
    • View examples of documents written in plain language.
  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, we use the ACSI Customer Satisfaction Survey, which includes plain language specific questions, to measure customer satisfaction. In November, we shortened and simplified the survey and changed the Plain Language questions to:

    Plain Language Questions (1-10 scale): We review and post data online from the survey each month:
    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.

    • Please rate the thoroughness of the information on this site.
    • Please rate how understandable this site's information is.
    • Please rate how well the site's information answers your questions.
    • The current Content Satisfaction score is 80 out of 100 (Source:   January 2017 - December 2017 Content Satisfaction average score)
    • View monthly Metrics
  6. We report our progress and compliance with the Plain Writing Act to the public by April 13 each year:

    You can download and view a copy of our reports below:
  7. 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."