Top 10 Principles for Plain Language
Plain language is clear, concise, organized, and appropriate for the intended audience.
- Write for your reader, not yourself.
- Use pronouns when you can.
- State your major point(s) first before going into details.
- Stick to your topic.
- Limit each paragraph to one idea and keep it short.
- Write in active voice. Use the passive voice only in rare cases.
- Use short sentences as much as possible.
- Use everyday words. If you must use technical terms, explain them on the first reference.
- Omit unneeded words.
- Keep the subject and verb close together.
- Use headings, lists, and tables to make reading easier.
- Proofread your work, and have a colleague proof it as well.
Promote a consistent One NARA voice by following the NARA Style Guide for guidance on usage, punctuation, capitalization, etc.