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:

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
  • 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:

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."