Write so that your readers don’t have to make an effort to understand you
When you write, usually you are writing for someone else to read it. Unless, of course, it’s your personal journal. You want your reader to understand what you are writing. You want them to get the message. Make it easy for them.
- Use short words rather than long ones
- Make sure your writing follows a logical structure
- Avoid long blocks of text – break it up with paragraphs and, where appropriate, headings and subheadings
- Use appropriate illustrations and diagrams to make the meaning clear
- Avoid the use of jargon unless you are absolutely sure that your reader understands it
- Avoid the use of officialese (for example, aforesaid, notwithstanding, etc.) Use everyday language
- Use prepositions carefully so it’s clear who or what they refer to
- Use real examples rather than abstractions
- Keep your word order simple. Put the subject (doer) early in the sentence and follow it with the active voice verb whenever possible
- Cut unnecessary words – write ‘now’ instead of ‘at this point in time’
When you’ve written something, before you send it, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I know who my reader is?
- Will my reader recognise the words I have used?
- Will they understand what I want them to do?
- Will they know when I want it done by?
- Will I get the results I need when they read this?
In case you missed them, you can download tips #1 to #5 here: