Plain Language

Plain Language Basics: Online Workshop

Thursday, September 10, 2020 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM ET

Hosted by and the Plain Language Community of Practice

U.S. government agencies are required to communicate in plain language. This three-hour online workshop by the Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN) 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.


Katherine Spivey — serves as GSA’s Plain Language Launcher and is a Senior Communications Analyst for the Office of Strategic Communications. She is co-chair of the Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN) and trains for DigitalGov. In her previous position at GSA, she managed web content, coordinated social media, and edited the Great Government through Technology blog. Before GSA, Katherine was web content manager at Homeland Security, law firm Steptoe & Johnson LLP, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. With an M.A. from UVA 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.

This talk is hosted by the Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN), also known as the Plain Language Community of Practice. 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.