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Hennepin County Design System

Plain language

We at Hennepin County have joined the international plain language movement and are committed to communicating to the public using language that is easy to understand.

Plain language definition

A communication is in plain language if its wording, structure, and design are so clear that the intended readers can easily:

  • Find what they need
  • Understand what they find
  • Use that information

Learn more about plain language by watching our video.

Plain language video

Applying plain language

How to apply plain language to your communications

The goal is to be clear, concise and scannable.

  • Avoid acronyms and jargon
  • Include only what your audience needs
  • Organize your text so that key information is easy to find
  • Use headings and empty space to help readers scan the information to find what they need

Print it

Why use plain language

More than 36 million Americans have limited English literacy, and all of us struggle with jargon we are unfamiliar with. Benefits of using plain language include:

  • Increased audience satisfaction and understanding of message
  • Increased access to services and benefits and increased compliance with regulations
  • Decreased costs to the organization through reduced phone calls and faster processing

In addition, documents written using plain language are more likely to meet accessibility standards and are easier to translate. 

Learn more about plain language