Our Pledge to You
We at the Department of Agriculture (USDA) are committed to improving our service to you by writing in plain language. We will use plain language in any new or substantially revised document that:
- Provides information about any of our services and benefits;
- Is needed to obtain any of our benefits or services; or,
- Explains how to comply with a requirement that we administer or enforce.
We pledge to provide you with information that is clear, understandable, and useful in every paper or electronic letter, publication, form, notice, or instruction we publish.
On July 19, 2012, the Center for Plain Language issued the first report card of federal agencies' efforts to comply with the Plain Writing Act. The report card grades agencies on their efforts to comply with the Plain Writing Act and each agency's plain writing supporting activities. USDA received the highest grades among federal agencies in both categories. We are honored by this success, but there is more work to do and we need your help. Please let us know if you have trouble understanding any of our documents.
You can read about the 2016 report card here.
Why We Make This Pledge
Our pledge is in keeping with our long-standing commitment to provide you with the information you need from us. The Plain Writing Act of 2010 (PDF, 123 KB) requires that all federal agencies write "clear Government communication that the public can understand and use."
We encourage you to read our Plain Writing Act Compliance Reports to learn about our plan and progress on ensuring compliance to the Act at USDA.
- USDA Plain Writing Act Compliance Report, 2017 (PDF, 3.3 MB)
- USDA Plain Writing Act Compliance Report, 2016 (PDF, 847 KB)
- USDA Plain Writing Act Compliance Report, 2015 (PDF, 1.1 MB)
- USDA Plain Writing Act Compliance Report, 2014 (PDF, 1.5 MB)
- USDA Plain Writing Act Compliance Report, 2013 (PDF, 1.2 MB)
- USDA Plain Writing Act Compliance Report, 2012 (PDF, 408 KB)
- USDA Plain Writing Implementation Plan, 2011 (PDF, 90.1 KB)
How You Can Help
Tell us how we're doing! If you have trouble understanding any of our documents or web site material, please contact the Office of the Executive Secretariat at email@example.com. Your comments and suggestions will help us further improve our communications.
Learn more about plain writing: USDA Plain Language Training Course
Plain Writing Resources for USDA Agencies and Offices
On October 13, 2011, the Plain Writing Act took full effect. In order to assist you with your Plain Language training and ensure that USDA complies with the Act, we have listed some resources for you to explore.
The Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN) is the official interagency working group designated to assist in issuing plain writing guidance. The PLAIN web site includes guidelines on plain language and tools for writing in plain language.
- Federal Plain Language Web Site
- Federal Plain Language Guidelines
- Federal Plain Language Tips and Tools
- Plain Writing Act of 2010 (PDF, 125 KB)
In addition to the Federal Plain Language website tools and resources available, USDA has developed its own materials to assist employees with Plain Language training and compliance, and guide you through the process of integrating plain writing into covered documents.
- Plain Language Writer's Checklist (DOCX, 15.4 KB)
- Plain Language Reviewer's Checklist (DOCX, 13.3 KB)
- Plain Language Training Resources (DOCX, 22.9 KB)
- USDA Plain Writing AgLearn Training (updated course)
Some other good resources developed by other Federal agencies that discuss how to write using Plain Language in technical writing can be found using the links listed below. These include guides on how to write Federal Register notices, legal documents, short rules, and more.