Plain English Documents/Introduction/NPR
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WRITING USER-FRIENDLY DOCUMENTS


1.  Introduction


The traditional way of writing government documents has not worked well. Too often, it has produced complicated, jargon-filled documents that have resulted in frustration, lawsuits, and a lack of trust between citizens and their government. To overcome this legacy, the documents writers have a great responsibility to communicate clearly.

Studies show that clearly written regulations improve compliance and decrease litigation. Writing that considers our readers' needs and draws them into the regulatory process improves the relationship between the government and the public it serves. Clear correspondence reduces the burden on the public. It also reduces the burden on the agency because we don't have to deal with the consequences of unclear communication.


How can we be better writers?

We believe that the most important goals are these--

  • Engage your reader

  • Write clearly

  • Write in a visually appealing style

The next several pages summarize some of the best techniques to achieve these three goals. Following the summary, you'll find detailed suggestions for applying these techniques to your writing.
You will also find a letters button on various pages of the plain English handbook on letters and regulations. Click the letters button to read about the guidance.

"Guidance on Writing Letters"

BACK TO "HOW TO"