Last week I wrote a post about how people equate “smart” writing with incomprehensible writing. It’s a way to keep the academic community small and isolated from the rest of the population, and I hate it.

But on Tuesday, this sad state of affairs has received a legal kick in the right direction with the Senate’s passing of the “Plain Writing Act.” This act is awesome for three reasons:

The content.

The act requires all publicly disseminated government documents to be written in a clear, concise style that is easily understood by the American taxpayer.  I sometimes wish this law could be applied to all forms of writing, but I guess I’ll take what I can get.

The title.

Plain is probably the wrong word, because it implies boredom and simplicity.  But if we think of it as meaning “concise,” well that’s something I can get excited about.  As journalists we’re taught that conciseness is king.  If you can say something in 40 words, can you say it in 20?  Then can you say it in 10?  I think they just titled it plain because it sounds catchier.

The logic.

This was a unanimous senate decision, so why hasn’t this happened earlier?  And why do we have to make it a law to get people to write in ways that improve communication?  Enforcing clear writing is beyond obvious.  I’m beyond ecstatic that we just might get this thing passed in the House as well.  It will sort of be like crappy writing is against the law—and that’s the kind of civilization I want to live in.

Thoughts on the Plain Writing Act?  Throw us some comments!

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