People have a right to plain language —Annetta Cheek.

Annetta is an anthropologist by training and she has a PhD from the University of Arizona. She worked for the US Government from 1980 until early 2007. Most of her Federal career focused on writing and implementing regulations. She spent 4 years as the chief plain language expert on Vice President Al Gore’s National Partnership for Reinventing Government.

She left academia in the early 1980s to work for the Federal Aviation Commission and she was among the first government employees to champion the use of clear, concise language.

Annetta was the chair of the federal interagency plain language advocacy group PLAIN from 1995 to 2007 and she also administered the group’s website:

However, in 2003, some PLAIN members realized they needed to include people outside the government to spread the plain language message. Annetta took the lead and co-founded the Center for Plain language with a group of plain language colleagues. She was Board Chair until she retired in 2014.

Her contribution to the plain language movement

  • She’s responsible for the 2010 Plain Writing Act and she developed a “report card” to measure federal agency compliance with the Plain Writing Act. Since the report card gets a lot of media attention, agencies are motivated to get good grades.
  • She established the ClearMark Awards to recognize good writing.