Plain Writing Initiative
May 12, 2017
The Plain Writing Act of 2010 (Act) is intended to make it easy for the public to understand government documents. The SEC, like other federal agencies, must write documents in plain writing, defined under the Act as writing that is "clear, concise, well-organized, and follows other best practices appropriate to the subject or field or audience." Starting in October 2011, the Act requires us to write new and substantially revised documents in plain language using the Federal Plain Language Guidelines.
As a disclosure agency, the SEC is committed to communicating with investors in easily understandable language. In 1998, the SEC published a guide, A Plain English Handbook: How to Create Clear SEC Disclosure Documents, showing securities lawyers and companies ways to reduce legalese. Also in 1998, the SEC adopted a rule requiring the use of plain English in certain sections of prospectuses. In 2008, the SEC adopted a rule providing for mutual fund summary prospectuses to be written in plain English.
Lori J. Schock, Director of the SEC's Office of Investor Education and Advocacy, is the SEC official responsible for overseeing the SEC's plain writing initiative. Our plan for implementing the requirements of the Act is available here. Our compliance report is available here.
We would appreciate the public's help to assess our progress on plain writing. If you have comments or suggestions about our implementation plan, or have difficulty understanding our documents or the pages on our website, please contact us at PlainWriting@sec.gov. You can also contact Owen Donley, Chief Counsel, Office of Investor Education and Advocacy, here.