Plain Language, sometimes referred to as basic language or simple language, is a form of writing to ensure that the reader will understand the text as easily and as effortlessly as possible. Plain language focuses on clarity and attempts to avoid technical language or jargon of any kind.
In the latter part of the 20th century, the plain language movement worked its way into different facets of American society, including:
The idea of plain language dates back to Cicero who said “so this plain style gives pleasure when unembellished.... All noticeable pearls, as it were, will be excluded. Not even curling irons will be used. All cosmetics, artificial white and red, will be rejected. Only elegance and neatness will remain” (The Orator, xxiii, 76-79). Since this time, Plain Language has developed into a major movement in the United States. This is especially apparent due to initiatives taken by the Clinton Administration in the late 1990’s to advance the use of plain language in government.
Efforts by organizations such as the Center for Plain Language and PLAIN have helped with the development and advancement of plain language. These groups advocate the use of plain language in today’s society, especially concerning organizations that represent the public.