How is Government using StyleWriter and Plain English?
Today, the Federal Government — as well as governments, major corporations, trade associations and professional bodies across the world — is adopting plain language as the style for writing its documents. And by far, StyleWriter is the most common, and most effective, editing software used for that purpose.
The government's journey to adopting plain English
Since at least the 1950s, U.S. Presidents have pushed for the use of plain language in the Government's communications with its citizens. Presidents Eisenhower, Ford, Carter and Clinton have all issued directives for federal employees in the executive branch to write in plain language. And on October 13, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Plain Writing Act of 2010, which requires all the Executive, quite simply, to "use plain language."
Helped along by the promises of President Obama for more openness and accountability within the government, the act is the culmination of decades of legislative and executive efforts to make Plain English the law of the land, or at least of the executive branch.
Yet, throughout these "reformative" decades, and especially in the last few years, much of government has already been changing its writing ways — sometimes systematically, sometimes haphazardly, but nonetheless steadily, both in anticipation of a mandate and in simple acknowledgement of reality: that the government must be more transparent and accountable, more frugal and efficient. And bar none, StyleWriter has been, and continues to be, the primary software tool employed to get the job done.
President Clinton's 1993 Executive Order #12866 stated that, “Each agency shall draft its regulations to be simple and easy to understand, with a goal of minimizing the potential for uncertainty and litigation arising from such uncertainty.”
In July 1998, President Clinton stated: “The Federal Government’s writing must be in plain language. By using plain language, we send a clear message about what the Government is doing, what it requires, and what services it offers. Plain language saves the Government and the private sector time, effort, and money.”
In that same year, Vice-President Al Gore placed the Plain Language initiative under his National Partnership for Reinventing Government; his memo stated in appropriately clear and concise language: “Here is the guidance we promised when the President issued the plain language presidential memorandum on June 1. This is a critical initiative that is important to me. I expect you to make it happen. If you need some help getting started, call NPR at 694-0075”
Since that time, the Federal Government has worked hard to introduce clearer written communications. Many government bodies such as Education, Transportation, Internal Revenue Service, Securities Exchange Commission, and Veterans Affairs have run plain-language initiatives. For two years, Vice-President Gore's office first coordinated this work and encouraged all Federal employees to adopt a clearer writing style. But today, perhaps only one in fifty Federal employees uses a plain language style. That will have to change now that the Plain Writing Act is mandating a major change.
How does StyleWriter Plain English software guarantee success?
To guarantee that everyone in an organization writes clearly, you need to change the communication culture, train staff and give them the tools to back up the training. This has proved impossible without software.
In the same way running a spelling checker on your word processor guarantees everyone writes without typing and spelling mistakes, plain English software can guarantee the benefits of clear writing. If necessary, organizations can immediately train all staff using our Electronic Writing Course (this provides staff with all the tips and techniques of top writers and editors; click here for details). Then, as a constant companion in every employee's word processor, StyleWriter backs up the training, continually showing each user how to edit his or her writing into a model of clear English; each employee runs StyleWriter through letters, memos and reports. And soon, drafting in plain English becomes the standard throughout the organization.
With large discounts for site licenses, StyleWriter
is an affordable solution to a problem that costs your organization time and money. (Click here
for ordering information.)