Skip to Top Main Navigation Skip to Left Navigation Skip to Content Area Skip to Footer
Texas Department of Insurance
Topics:   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z All

Plain language checklist

1. The most important information is at the top or beginning.

Example: If an agent needs to take action, state that in the subject line, a heading, or first paragraph.

2. The call to action is highlighted and in active voice.

Instead of: The application must be completed by the applicant and postmarked by June 1.

Write: You must send your application by June 1.

3. Headings guide readers through the document.

Headings can be questions, statements, or topics. They should break the information into logical sections.

4. The wording is easy to read.

Use short, common words and avoid jargon. Use a readability calculator to test the reading level.

5. At least 90 percent of the sentences are in active voice.

Active voice makes it clear who is supposed to do what. Not “It must be done,” but “You must do it.”

6. The average sentence length is 20 words or less.

Express only one idea in each sentence. Break up your idea into its parts, and make each one the subject of its own sentence.

7. Lists with three or more items are in bullets.

Vertical lists are easy to read. They can help readers see all the steps in a process.

8. The average paragraph length is five sentences or less.

Write short paragraphs and include only one topic in each paragraph.

9. The formatting is easy to read.

  • Don’t use all caps or underline. Instead, use bold for emphasis.
  • Use italics only for legal citations.
  • Make sure the font size is easy to read.

10. The document explains how to get help.

Did you include a phone number, website, or other contact for people who need more information?

For more information, contact:

Last updated: 10/13/2021