Document Checklist for Plain Language
Use this checklist to see if your document meets plain language standards. (If you are writing for the web, here's the additional weblist.) Click on the links for a brief explanation of each standard. You can find more extensive discussions of these standards throughout this website, especially in the "howto" section.
|written for the average reader
organized to serve the reader's needs
has useful headings
uses "you" and other pronouns to speak to the reader
uses active voice
uses short sections and sentences
uses the simplest tense possible—simple present is best
| uses base verbs, not nominalizations
omits excess words
uses concrete, familiar words
uses "must" to express requirements; avoids the ambiguous word "shall"
places words carefully (avoids large gaps between the subject, the verb and the object; puts exceptions last; places modifiers correctly)
uses lists and tables to simplify complex material
uses no more than two or three subordinate levels