National Institutes of Health Plain Language Online Training

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Date Developed: Unknown. Source: National Institutes of Health. Presenter(s): n.a.. Type: Interactive Modules. Level: Intermediate Advanced. Length: Self-paced.


In order to communicate health and research messages clearly, the National Institutes of Health suggests using plain language for all documents, presentations, and electronic messages. Plain language is characterized by:

• Common, everyday words except for necessary technical terms

• Personal pronouns (“we” and “you”)

• Active voice

• Logical organization

• An easy-to-read format, including bullets, tables and free use of whitespace.

This Computer-Based Training (CBT) module was developed to introduce health professionals to the basics of plain language. Modules one through seven contain tales of medical history, some exercises, and a summary. The eighth module contains optional exercises for additional practice. A list of websites for use by participants to continue expanding professional writing skills is also provided.

Learning Objectives

• Learn to organize ideas.

• Develop a clear writing style.

• Learn the skills necessary to become a more effective communicator.

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number UE8MC25742; MCH Navigator for $180,000/year. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.