Plain Language

Plain Language Basics: Online Class

Tuesday, August 11, 2020 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM ET

Hosted by Plain Language Community of Practice and

Register Add to Cal 2020-08-11 01:00 PM 2020-08-11 04:00 PM America/New_York Plain Language Basics: Online Class Take this three-hour online class to learn how to write and edit in plain language. Event Page: https:/event/2020/08/11/plain-language-basics-online-class/

This event will be held and recorded over Zoom for Government. A link and password will be sent via email 24 hours and 1 hour prior to the event start time for those who register. For more info, see the computer and device requirements and Frequently Asked Questions. If you have specific questions or security concerns about Zoom for Government, please visit

Before the event, visit the Zoom Download Center to install the Zoom web browser client.

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U.S. government agencies are required to communicate in plain language. How do federal employees learn how to do that? The Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN) offers free training to federal agencies; this three-hour online class through explains how to write in plain language.

We’ll cover the following:

  • Definition of plain language
  • Background
  • The law - Plain Writing Act of 2010 and executive orders
  • Federal Plain Language Guidelines
    • Write for your audience
    • Organize your information
    • Choose your words carefully
    • Be concise
    • Keep it conversational
    • Design for reading
    • Follow web standards
    • Test your assumptions

We’ll use plenty of before-and-after examples, and in-class participation.


Katherine Spivey serves as thePlain Language Launcher at the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). She is co-chair of the Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN) and trains for DigitalGov. At GSA, she is the plain language expert for the Office of Strategic Communication. Previously, she managed web content, coordinated social media, and edited the Great Government through Technology blog. Before GSA, Katherine was web content manager at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the international law firm, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. With an M.A. from the University of Virginia and a B.A. from the University of Mary Washington, she has taught at community colleges and at the Amphibious Warfare School in Quantico, Virginia.

Related Link:

The Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN) is a group of federal employees from different agencies and specialties who support the use of clear communication in government writing. Our goal is to promote the use of plain language for all government communications. We believe that using plain language will save federal agencies time and money and provide better service to the American public.