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Plain language

Can you quickly understand the main points of the content?

Why it’s important: Karin is not a native English speaker and she sometimes has trouble decoding legal or bureaucratic language.

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John has a developmental disability and has difficulty interpreting content written above a sixth-grade reading level.

Kai has low tech literacy and often doesn’t understand highly technical language.

Steps to take

  • Refer to the plain language section of 18F’s Content Guide for general guidance, lists of words to avoid, and links to plain-language resources.
  • As you’re writing, consider the tech literacy level of your target audience. Define technical terms that may be unfamiliar, and use a product or service’s full name before using its acronym or abbreviation. You may also consider adding a glossary if your content contains many potentially unfamiliar terms. Include in-line definitions for scientific, legal, or technical terms that you must use.
  • Avoid using idiomatic language.
  • Test the readability of your content using Hemingway App,, or a similar tool.


WCAG 2.0 references


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