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.

The Plain Writing Act of 2010 requires federal agencies to write "clear Government communication that the public can understand and use." President Obama also emphasized the importance of establishing "a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration" in his Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government.

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, and blog posts on plain writing. National Archives staff also provide quarterly progress reports based on a plain writing directive.

  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:

    • is necessary to receive Federal Government benefits or services;
    • provides information about Federal Government benefits or services; or
    • explains how to comply with a requirement that the Federal Government administers or enforces.

    National Archives employees—archivists, public affairs officers, education staff, supervisors-—who write or edit public information take a plain writing course.

  4. We'll report our progress and compliance with the Plain Writing Act to Congress and the public by April 13 each year.

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

If you have suggestions on ways to improve our documents and/or website, we'd like to hear from you!

Contact us at - please include the URL of the web page or the name of the document, and we will work to make it plainer.

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The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
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