October 13th is International Plain Language Day and to celebrate, the editors at my work threw a plain language party!
Using plain language in your writing helps explain complex information in a simple, easy-to-understand way. Plain language is especially applicable to anyone working with federal agencies. In 2010, President Obama signed the Plain Writing Act, which says that federal agencies should promote “clear Government communication that the public can understand and use.” The act goes on to define “plain writing” as “clear, concise, well-organized, and follows other best practices appropriate to the subject.”
In true overdressed editor fashion, we themed this open-house plain throughout from the outfits to the snacks. Dressed in plain white tees (or blouses) and black pants, the editors supplied plain snacks, including plain M&Ms, saltines, and Nilla wafers, to name a few. Attendees received a passport to plain language upon arrival and traveled around the room to 5 different stations dealing with various areas of plain language: jargon, active voice, tone, word choice, and simplicity. After completing each station, travelers received a stamped letter on their passport to eventually spell out PLAIN. Once they had all 5 letters, they enjoyed a thick slice of “Plain Cake” while listening to the Plain White T’s and Weird Al’s “Word Crimes.”
I'm a Virginia-native uprooted to Indianapolis to marry my husband and start our sweet family of 4. As an overdressed editor, I love planning parties and good reads.