Open Government at the National Archives

Plain Writing Tips - A Few Words From the Federal Register

This week’s Plain Language writing tip comes to us from Succinct Sultan Jim Worsham.

We here at Writing Tip Headquarters never tire of trying to say things with as few words as possible. That’s why we have in past columns offered you suggestions for tightening your writing.

We’re doing so again here, courtesy of the Office of the Federal Register’s “Plain Language Tools” page.

The Federal Register’s web page about drafting Federal documents provides ways to say things in fewer words. Many of the words are legal terms that staff encounter while preparing the daily Federal Register.

But we found some that are widely used throughout the Archives and thought we’d share them with you. Let’s shine the light on the Federal Register’s efforts to infuse its work with plain language.

Below is a sample, but if you’d like to take a look at the full list, go to

accorded given
adequate number of enough
at the time when
cease stop
complete (as a verb) finish
donate give
during the course of during
excessive number of too many
feasible possible
for the reason that because
portion part
prior to before
provision of law law
pursuant to under
State of Kansas Kansas
sufficient number of enough
The Congress Congress
under the provisions of under
utilize, employ [meaning “use”] use
with reference to for
in the interest of for
is able to can
is authorized to may
manner way
necessitate require
no later than June 30, 2014 before July 1, 2014
obtain get
of a technical nature technical
per annum, per day, per foot a year, a day, a foot
period of time period, time


To be consistent with NARA style, take a look at the NARA Style Guide.