Plain Language Materials & Resources
Keep the reader in mind as you make decisions about organization, word choice and presentation.
Plain language makes it easier for everyone to understand and use health information. Although plain language is a familiar idea, many organizations don’t use it as often as they should. The Plain Writing Act of 2010 requires federal agencies to train staff and use plain language when they communicate with the public.
Plain Language Resources
- Everyday Words for Public Health Communication[282 KB, 44 pages]
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Everyday Words for Public Health Communication offers expert recommendations from CDC's Health Literacy Council and other agency communicators on how to reduce jargon and replace problematic terms to improve comprehension.
"Everyday Words" provides:
- Substitute terms,
- Real-life examples of difficult public health passages
- Revised wording
- Tips to reinforce meaning and avoid other common pitfalls
- The Federal Plain Language Guidelines
The Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN) is a community of federal employees dedicated to the idea that citizens deserve clear communications from government. PLAIN developed and continues to revise The Federal Plain Language Guidelines to provide updated advice on clear communication.
- Plain Language at NIH
National Institutes of Health
NIH has established the Clear Communication initiative that focuses on achieving health literacy objectives. Their page on plain language has information about training and links to plain language resources.
- Plain Language Planner (PLP-PC)
The Plain Language Planner© (PLP) is a tool that translates common medical language into plain language. We are currently working on creating a pocket guide for this resource.The PLP© is also integrated into the Health Communication iOS APP and includes more resources. We recently updated this resource to include oncology terms, treatment side effects and Spanish translation!
Plain Language Promotional Materials
CDC is committed to plain language communication with the public. We created these posters to remind staff about plain language techniques. You can use these materials or create your own to promote plain language in your organization. You can find many plain language resources on the federal plain language web site.
These materials are sized for 8.5 X 11. If you want a large poster or small postcard size, please contact us.
- Plain Language - Communication your audience understands the first time[170 KB, 1 page]
- Cut It Out - Delete unnecessary words, sentences, and paragraphs[131 KB, 1 page]
- Mind your Jargon - Choose words and numbers[131 KB, 1 page]
- What's your Point? Put the most important message first.[142 KB, 1 page]