Comprehensible Writing in Government

We’ve all struggled to read and understand government documents. Sometimes it seems they are deliberately vague to assure deniability by the bureaucrats who author them. The worst examples are probably written by a committee who disagree fundamentally with each other and each must have their ideas expressed.

The Clearmark Awards, sponsored by the DC-based Center for Plain Language are awarded annually to  American government agencies, corporations and non-profits who use readable language to present their messages. The awards have been handed out for eleven years and apparently, some agencies actually listen. 

However, Some don’t.

They also hand out Watermark awards for the best examples of incomprehensibility. One of the winners in this category is a roadsign from the California Department of Transportation.


Read this, comprehend it, and don’t cause an accident. It would be safer to negotiate a divorce agreement on your cell phone at 120 km/hr.




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