Agencies' websites ranked for readability, clear language

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ website scored highest in readability, transparency and clarity, while the Federal Railroad Administration’s website scored lowest, according to a new index created by Visible Thread, a provider of content analysis solutions.

The first-ever Visible Thread index ranked 30 federal agencies based on an analysis of their websites’ compliance with plain language and transparency requirements in the Plain Writing Act of 2010.

Visible Thread created an index based on four positive atrributes of plain writing: readability; use of active, rather than passive, sentence structures; avoidance of sentences that are too long; and sparing use of complex words.

“Collectively, these metrics tell us how clear or complex website content is,” said the report, which was published on Nov. 15.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics ranked first, followed by the Centers for Disease Control &U Prevention, Bureau of the Census, US Geological Survey and National Cancer Institute.

At the bottom of the index were the Federal Railroad Adminsitration, along with the National Highway Safety Adminsitration and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

“Factors making these the worst performers are a high proportion of long sentences, high levels of passive language, a high degree of complex language and poor readability ratings,” the study said.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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