Write To Inform, Not To Mystify: Plain English Made Simple
The goal of business writing is to convey your thoughts to your readers, not to mystify them with fancy language. Business writing experts recommend using "plain English" when you write for work. This means using common words in sentences that readers can understand without having to reread them. Here are seven of my favorite writing tips:
Divide and conquer. If you have crammed too many ideas into in one sentence, your ideas will be hard to unpack. Divide the sentence in two, and remove unrelated ideas and extra words, phrases, and clauses.
Remember that "more is not necessarily better." Eliminate redundant expressions, such as "new innovation" and "first and foremost," as well as other repetitive words.
Substitute a noun or pronoun for fill expressions, such as "there is" and "it appears."
Save learned words for crossword puzzles. Say "use," not "utilize," and "consists of," not "is comprised of." Mark Twain observed in Simplified Spelling, 1906, "I never write metropolis for seven cents because I can get the same price for city.…"
Avoid using jargon. If you use jargon when writing for lay people, you will confuse them. Adjust the language you use to meet the needs of your audience.
Omit Clichés. "At the end of the day" and "playing on a level playing field" are trite expressions that annoy, rather than enlighten, readers. Here is a new cliché.
Use "they" instead of wordy gender neutral language. Replace wordy expressions, such as "his or her" with the neutral pronoun "they." Make nouns and pronouns consistent in number.
For more tips, see or download A Plain English Handbook.
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