Some federal agencies employ a ‘senior official for plain writing’

An official at the USDA explained why the agency was ranked No. 1 in plain writing last year. Plus, a new conjunction, a new editing app, newly discovered letters from J.D. Salinger, and more.

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One of these officials wrote about the experience this week. We are also introduced to a new conjunction and a new editing app, and we explore how writers interact with the world.

Revisiting the plain writing act. Last year, I highlighted the story of the Center for Plain Language, which grades federal agencies’ adherence to the Plain Writing Act (PWA). The PWA is a law that requires government officials to write clearly, and avoid excessive jargon or acronyms. First of all, yes, this is a real law. And second, there is a real non-profit called the Center for Plain Language. There’s even a “Senior Official for Plain Writing” within different federal agencies. In a blog post, the USDA’s senior official explains why that agency was ranked No. 1 in plain writing last year among federal agencies, and why it places a high emphasis on plain writing.

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