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Law and requirements

The Plain Writing Act of 2010 was signed on October 13, 2010. The law requires that federal agencies use clear government communication that the public can understand and use.

While the Act does not cover regulations, three separate Executive Orders emphasize the need for plain language: E.O. 12866, E.O. 12988, and E.O. 13563.


Executive departments and agencies must:

  1. Follow the Federal Plain Language Guidelines.

  2. Follow OMB’s Guidance on Implementing the Plain Writing Act.

  3. Have a plain writing section on your website. Start with our templates for your plain writing page and compliance report (DOC).


By July 13, 2011, agencies must:

  • designate a senior official for “plain writing”
  • explain the Act’s requirements to staff
  • establish a procedure to oversee the implementation of the Act within the agency
  • train agency staff in plain writing
  • designate staff as points of contact for the agency plain writing web page
  • publish a compliance report (DOC) for meeting the requirements of the Act on its plain language web page

By October 13, 2011, agencies must:

  1. Use plain language in any document that:
    • is necessary for obtaining any federal government benefit or service or filing taxes
    • provides information about a federal government benefit or service, or
    • explains to the public how to comply with a requirement that the federal government administers or enforces
  2. Write annual compliance reports and post these reports on its plain language web page.