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Plain Language Training

The Department has an active and popular Plain Language Training Program. Between April 2013 and March 2014, there were six Plain Language Training Classes at Forrestal and two at Germantown, attended by a total of 189 employees and contractors. Classes generally reach their size limit, and overflows are placed in the next scheduled class. Since August 2011, there have been 23 Plain Language Classes at Forrestal and eight at Germantown.

In April 2013, working with the Department’s video training conference (VTC) staff and points-of-contact at DOE field facilities, VTC procedures were developed allowing Plain Language training to field personnel. DOE field facilities across the country jumped in with both feet. Between April 2013 and March 2014, 21 Plain Language classes — attended by 525 DOE employees and contractors — were taught using VTC technology.

Plain Language Training is promoted at Forrestal and Germantown through DOECAST. The Plain Language page on PowerPedia lists the schedule of upcoming classes, and employees and contractors can register for classes either through PowerPedia or by contacting Michael Coogan, the DOE Plain Language Point-of-Contact. For field facilities, a point-of-contact from each facility can reach out to the DOE Plain Language Point-of-Contact, Michael Coogan, to arrange for VTC training.

The Department’s Plain Language classes provide tools that allow writers to present information more clearly, including the following guidelines:

  • Using active voice
  • Using pronouns and everyday words
  • Shortening sentences and paragraphs
  • Limiting jargon and acronyms
  • Identifying “hidden verbs”
  • Identifying the audience and focusing on what the reader needs to know
  • Using lists and tables instead of text

Classes are open to all DOE employees and contractors. Program Offices can request Plain Language training for their respective offices and divisions. All classes are led by a DOE instructor.