Clarity in Writing

clarity-diversHere, I’d like to stress the importance of using language that people understand, rather than inflated, esoteric wording. If the goal is to get your point across, why not just do that? Of course, words aren’t the only things that come into play. Formatting and presentation, as well as sentence and paragraph structure also all have a hand in your end result.

Develop a Clear Plan
Regardless of the type of writing you’re doing, it helps to have a clear picture of how you’re going to approach the task of communicating effectively. Therefore, a preliminary checklist will allow you to add some glamour to your writing style. Before beginning to write, remind yourself to

    * Watch out for jargon and pompous language.
    * Use concrete instead of abstract wording.
    * Use vivid verbs, and let them work for you.
    * Write the way you speak…if you speak well.
    * Avoid reliance on adverbs and adjectives
    * Use the active voice in place of the passive voice.
    * Write about specific ideas and facts, rather than rely on platitudes.

If you are writing for a newsletter, newspaper, or the Web, you might also want to

    * Use shorter sentences (7 to 11 words).
    * Use shorter words. (Go for the 10-cent word.)
    * Consider the look of shorter paragraphs (4 to 8 lines).
    * Repeat key words.

Avoid Pompous, Inflated Language
Although it can seem tempting to follow the example of much writing that is familiar to us, it’s sometimes better to beg to differ, particularly when it comes to writing that is lofty, heady, and highfalutin. The attempt to sound esoteric by using words and phrases that seem “larger than life” is sure to backfire. Instead of being impressed, the reader will sense the unnecessary effort, the gross exaggeration, and the ego problem of the writer.

This type of writing serves to camouflage the writer’s message rather than to clarify it. Therefore, it is better to stick with down-to-earth language and to try to be oneself. Be human, and you’ll be clear.

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