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sabra Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-14-10 09:42 AM
Original message
'Plain writing' now the rule for federal government
Source: USA Today

Henceforth, forthwith and posthaste, the federal government will be required to use "plain writing" in public documents. Today, President Obama signed the Plain Writing Act of 2010 ( H.R. 946).

Agencies will have to train employees on writing plainly. The law appoints a "plain writing" official to oversee implementation of the measure.

What's the law's definition of plain writing? "Writing that is clear, concise, well-organized, and follows other best practices appropriate to the subject or field and intended audience."

The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, and Sens. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, and George Voinovich, R-Ohio.

"The Plain Writing Act requires a simple change to business-as- usual that'll make a big difference for anyone who's ever filled out a tax return or received a government document," Braley said when the bill cleared Congress. "Writing government documents in plain language will increase government accountability and will save Americans time and money. Plain, straightforward language makes it easy for taxpayers to understand what the federal government is doing and what services it is offering."

Read more: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post...
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Brickbat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-14-10 09:45 AM
Response to Original message
1. As a professional editor, I could have halved the size of the census handbooks we used.
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XemaSab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-14-10 03:09 PM
Response to Reply #1
10. You clearly didn't look at the handbooks I looked at
I could have reduced mine to a 30-page booklet. :D
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FSogol Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-14-10 09:47 AM
Response to Original message
2. Next the need a "book-learn'n act" that would fully fund our schools.
:shrug:
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slackmaster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-14-10 09:48 AM
Response to Original message
3. They should strive to eliminate most uses of the verb "to be"
That would make it clearer.

"Writing that is clear, concise, well-organized, and follows other best practices appropriate to the subject or field and intended audience."

In this case the "is" permits the arbitrary application of labels like "clear", "concise", and "well-organized".

SPEAK E-PRIME, DAMMIT!

:nuke:

http://www.trans4mind.com/personal_development/GeneralS...
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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-15-10 05:54 AM
Response to Reply #3
19. Briefer and fewer subordinate clauses may help, too.
I swear Kerry's seeming inablility to speak in simple sentences while campaigning was almost as damaging to him as Diebold.
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kirby Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-14-10 10:05 AM
Response to Original message
4. Halfway there!
In order to make things comprehensible to the tea party morons, we need a 'Replacing Text with Pretty Pictures Act' that will convert everything to a childrens picture book format.
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elleng Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-14-10 10:28 AM
Response to Original message
5. Oh good, a Plain Writing Czar!
We (Feds) had this in the past, something similar, took 'lessons,' but guess what, our 'editors' upstairs couldn't help but to return to the 'old' jargon!
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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-15-10 05:42 AM
Response to Reply #5
17. I thought this had a "deja vu vibe." Thanks for confirming.
Edited on Fri Oct-15-10 05:43 AM by No Elephants



Henceforth, I will expend reasonable efforts to seek to repose faith in my initial intestinal sensations. ;)
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elleng Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-15-10 07:44 AM
Response to Reply #17
22. Our first reactions are virtually ALWAYS right, dont'cha think???
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OnlinePoker Donating Member (837 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-14-10 11:57 AM
Response to Original message
6. Good idea...too bad there are no repercussions for inaction
Edited on Thu Oct-14-10 12:06 PM by OnlinePoker
From the bill under "Judicial Review and Enforceability": No provision of this Act shall be construed to create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable by any administrative or judicial action.

Documents excluded include regulations, which means laws being passed will be as obscure as ever.
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Recursion Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-14-10 12:25 PM
Response to Original message
7. This was part of "Reinventing Government" 17 years ago
Reading levels and SMOG scores for all public documents were supposed to gradually drop. I suspect this will go about as far as that did, sadly.
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RufusTFirefly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-14-10 12:33 PM
Response to Original message
8. H.R. 676 may not meet the standard exactly, but it's remarkably terse and clear
To wit:


SEC. 101. ELIGIBILITY AND REGISTRATION.

(a) In General- All individuals residing in the United States (including any territory of the United States) are covered under the USNHI Program entitling them to a universal, best quality standard of care. Each such individual shall receive a card with a unique number in the mail. An individual's social security number shall not be used for purposes of registration under this section.

(b) Registration- Individuals and families shall receive a United States National Health Insurance Card in the mail, after filling out a United States National Health Insurance application form at a health care provider. Such application form shall be no more than 2 pages long.

(c) Presumption- Individuals who present themselves for covered services from a participating provider shall be presumed to be eligible for benefits under this Act, but shall complete an application for benefits in order to receive a United States National Health Insurance Card and have payment made for such benefits.


Full text of HR 676 is here
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bhcodem Donating Member (110 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-14-10 02:55 PM
Response to Original message
9. A big thanks...
To my Congressman and friend, Bruce Braley!
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Uncle Joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-14-10 03:23 PM
Response to Original message
11. Kicked and recommended for lowering the intimidation level.
Thanks for the thread, sabra.
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independent_voter Donating Member (283 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-14-10 06:34 PM
Response to Original message
12. a step in the right direction, tax documents give me a brain seizure
it just seems like the go out of their way to make it impossible to understand
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w4rma Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-14-10 07:49 PM
Response to Original message
13. Impressive legislation. (nt)
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yurbud Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-14-10 07:53 PM
Response to Original message
14. if it applied to court documents too, a lot of lawyers would be out of work.
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chidy Donating Member (38 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-15-10 04:38 AM
Response to Reply #14
16. lol. so true.
and anyway, who defines "plain" writing? cletus the slack jawed yokel? seriously, this is more of the same old "let's pass something that sounds good but doesn't have any meaning or force" that i've come to expect from these democrats. a campaign ad bill, and nothing meaningful or that will change anything. i'm sure my IRS form this year will be as annoying and long as it always has been.
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surrealAmerican Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-15-10 07:35 AM
Response to Reply #16
21. I agree.
This sounds too vague to make much difference. They would need a very specific definition of "plain writing" to be able to use as a guide.

Welcome to DU.
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Psephos Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-14-10 11:24 PM
Response to Original message
15. Two thumbs up. n/t
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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-15-10 05:48 AM
Response to Original message
18. Wouldn't it be cheaper and easier and more effective to hire "Plain English" editors for the
written stuff?
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Exilednight Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-15-10 06:38 AM
Response to Original message
20. No point in teaching kids if your new plan is to dumb down American even further. n/t
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Javaman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-15-10 10:35 AM
Response to Original message
23. It will still be at a reading level the tea ball licking baggers will find hard to understand. nt
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Ignis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-15-10 06:17 PM
Response to Original message
24. Great! Please make the US tax code your first project.
:D
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