1. Less is more. Too many words
obscure meaning. Use 25 words per sentence or less.
Get rid of as many words as possible when editing, while still conveying the meaning and mood you desire.
2. Put only one message in a single
sentence. Avoid disrupting your
sentences with thought-stopping gaps.
Instead write an additional sentence or recast your sentence.
3. Use transitions when
returning to main ideas to
smooth out choppiness.
4. Appeal to the senses. Good writing
uses concrete images the
reader can see in the mind's eye.
Avoid abstractions and Latin-based words like minimize and integrate.
Instead favor Anglo-Saxon words like table, hammer and hut.
Paint word pictures and use sensory details that put readers into the picture.
5. Be specific rather than vague in your
details and description. A bee is a stronger image than an insect.
7. Use an active voice. An active voice
uses the subject-verb-object
An active voice has greater clarity, movement, and is more concise than passive voice.
A. Corrollary: Avoid the
passive voice. The passive voice uses the object-verb-subject sentence
Passive structure introduces weak or passive verbs. Use passive be verbs sparingly (e.g. being, are, is).
B. Exceptions allowed.
For variety or emphasis reverse the active sentence form.
In other words, it's okay to use the passive voice occasionally.
9. When information is complex or
statistical in nature put it in
a chart or table.
10. To create polished prose the writer needs to:
a) understand the
goals and interests of the audience;
b) have a clear purpose;
c) perform solid research; and
d) be willing to revise, revise, and revise a little more.
through revising several drafts.
Prepared by Jennifer Harrison. Portions
adapted from Mightier
than the Sword by C. Edward Good.