Plain Language

Writing with Purpose

The Department of the Interior (DOI) is committed to writing all of our documents in plain language to better improve our services to and communication with the public.

Click here to see our plain writing implementation plan.

We aim to provide clear and organized information. On January 21, 2009, President Obama charged all federal agencies to establish "a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration" in the Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government. Congress also passed the Plain Writing Act of 2010 that requires all federal agencies to write "clear Government communication that the public can understand and use."

Our goal is to use plain language in any document that:

  • Is necessary for obtaining any of our benefits or services or for filing taxes;
  • Provides information about any of our benefits or services; or
  • Explains how to comply with a requirement that we administer or enforce.

Here's what Interior's Associate Deputy Secretary had to say about Plain Writing in a 2011 memo.

Types of documents required to be in Plain Language

  • Publications
  • Instructions
  • Applications
  • Technical reports
  • News releases
  • Webpages
  • General correspondence with the public (both paper and electronic format)
  • Vacancy announcements and instructions on how to apply for jobs.

Plain Writing Resources

Frequently Asked Questions.

Plain Writing Guidelines.

Available trainings in DOI University.

DOI Learn, which offers many training opportunities to private, state, not-for-profit and other federal government agencies, offers several video based learning opportunities demonstrating a brief overview of writing in Plain Language, and is a great place to get started.  Follow the link to DOI Learn and use the search bar to locate the Plain Language Act course (course code: OS-PL2010).

(NOTE):  You will need your DOI Learn login information to proceed into the DOI Learn content; please have that readily available.  The training videos are best viewed in Internet Explorer and are not compatible with other browsers.

Departmental Contacts

DOI has named the Associate Deputy Secretary as its Plain Language Senior Official who oversees our communication with the public and ensures that it is clear, understandable, and useful in all correspondence, publications, forms, or notices issued. We continue to look for ways to improve our work and would like to hear your feedback. Please contact us at plainlanguage@ios.doi.gov, or phone Nicholas DiProfio in the Office of the Executive Secretariat and Regulatory Affairs at (202) 208-3059.