Plain Language Materials & Resources

Plain language makes it easier for everyone to understand and use health information. Although plain language is a familiar idea, many organizations don’t use it as often as they should. The Plain Writing Act of 2010 requires federal agencies to train staff to use plain language when they communicate with the public.

Plain Language Resources

Group of different words to describe Clear and Plain Language.

Keep the reader in mind as you make decisions about organizing and formatting your health information and selecting the most appropriate words.

  • Everyday Words for Public Health Communication 
    Use Everyday Words for Public Health Communication to reduce public health jargon. This tool lists terms that authors frequently use in public health materials and the terms’ common, everyday alternatives. The recommended alternatives come from CDC’s Health Literacy Council and other agency communicators. You can also see real-life examples of complex sentences and how our communicators revised them using common, everyday words.
  • The Federal Plain Language Guidelines
    The Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN) is a community of federal employees dedicated to the idea that citizens deserve clear communications from government. PLAIN developed and continues to revise The Federal Plain Language Guidelines to provide updated advice on clear communication.
  • Plain Language at NIH
    National Institutes of Health
    NIH has established the Clear Communication initiative that focuses on achieving health literacy objectives. Their page on plain language has information about training and links to plain language resources.

Plain Language Examples

The following materials demonstrate use of plain language principles.

Page from Stay Safe from COVID-19 showing mother taking daughter for COVID-19 vaccine

Stay Safe from COVID-19 won the 2022 ClearMark Award for Shorter Brochures and was part of the materials that won the Grand ClearMark Award.

Plain Language Promotional Materials

CDC is committed to using plain language with the public. We created Plain Language: Communication your audience understands the first time [178 KB, 1 page] to remind staff about plain language techniques. You can download it in the following sizes:

Use this material to promote the use of plain language in your own organization, share it with your partners, or create your own promotional materials.