Governor of Florida introduces plain language initiative

The Governor of Florida, Charlie Crist, has introduced a 'plain language' initiative within the state, to ensure that documents and other communications issued by his office are as clear and concise as possible. The initiative, contained in an Executive Order issued in January, extends to any other agencies under the Governor's control.

Documents must include

  • Clear language that is commonly used by the intended audience;
  • Only the information needed by the recipient, presented in a logical sequence;
  • Short sentences written in the active voice that make it clear who is responsible for what; and
  • Layout and design that help the reader understand the meaning on the first try (including adequate white space, bulleted lists, and helpful headings).

Governor Crist writes on his website that

'It needs to be clear that the people are the boss of state government, not the other way around. In the business world, a business would not be successful if those responsible for making important decisions could not understand what the employees were saying. It is not too much to ask us to speak clearly to our employers.'

We were delighted to hear about this move. Is it too much to hope that other states and departments will follow Governor Crist's example?

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