8 Clear and Effective Writing Tips
How do you write clearly and effectively? Everyone needs to master clear and effective writing skills to be successful in any career. You may think this is just for authors, editors, journalists, or any content creation job. The truth is we need to be effective writers to become effective communicators. How do you expect people to understand your message if you don’t present it coherently?
Unfortunately, many of us have trouble in writing. Some may say that clear writing involves too much work and they simply don’t have time for it. However, have you considered that poorly written content may actually impede productivity? If your readers don’t get your point at once, they won’t absorb the general message and make proper actions or decisions. Thus, you need to know and follow the rules that will help you write clearly. What are these rules?
Writing Clearly and Effectively
In my article entitled “7 Tips On Mastering The Art of Brevity,” I transformed the word BREVITY into an acronym to stand for the seven tips. It’s crucial that you aim for short and concise prose so you don’t waste your readers’ time. Here are eight useful writing rules:
1. Write an outline
Your grade school and high school teachers were right in reminding you to pay close attention to your outlines. Effective writing starts with effective and organized thinking. Reflect about what you will write about and how you will express it. Outlines guide you in writing constructively so you don’t move away from your main point. There are two types: topic and sentence outlines. Topic outline consists of short words or phrases only while sentence outline uses complete sentences. Topic outlines are faster and easier to write but sentence outlines help you compose the headings or subheadings to use in your final text.
2. Start strongly and clearly.
The first sentence and paragraph is the life of your text. Construct direct and precise sentences that state the main point and encourage readers to keep reading. There should be smooth transitions between sentences and paragraphs. Ensure that readers’ interest is maintained or even heightened through your clear and mind-stimulating sentences.
3. Cut out unnecessary words.
Make sure to use essential words only and cut the extra to prevent your text from getting overly verbose. Here are some of the most common verbose phrases and the recommended substitutes:
Verbose phrase Substitute
All three of the the three
Fewer in number fewer
Give rise to cause
In all cases always
In a position to can
In close proximity to near
In order to to
A majority of most
A number of many
Are of the same opinion agree
At the present moment now
Less frequently occurring rare
4. Prefer the active than passive voice.
In the active voice, the subject does the action which the verb expresses while in the passive voice, the subject receives the action which the verb expresses. The active voice is better than the passive voice because it’s clear, direct and lively. Here are some examples:
Active: I bought personalized toys for the orphans.
Passive: Personalized toys for the orphans were bought by me.
Active: Gina bought hundreds of low-priced promotional products.
Passive: Hundreds of low-priced promotional products were bought by Gina.
In the examples you’ll notice that the active sentences are composed of fewer words while passive sentences have more. Passive voice may also be used in some cases, but if you’re aiming for a short prose use the active voice.
5. Be mindful of the parallelism rule.
Parallel structure is using the same pattern of words to express that two or more ideas are of equal importance. Incorrect parallel structures are very common in any text form and should be corrected immediately. Coordinating conjunctions like “and,” “or” are used to connect parallel structures. Here are some problematic structures and the corrections:
Incorrect: My job includes helping customers choose promotional items, placing their orders, and to ensure prompt shipment.
Correct: My job includes helping customers choose promotional items, placing their orders, and ensuring prompt shipment.
Incorrect: The client reminded her manager that she needs small pens, large notebooks, and bags that are spacious.
Correct: The client reminded her manager that she needs small pens, large notebooks, and spacious bags.
6.Practice the art of paraphrasing.
Lots of people do not paraphrase information because they are afraid of being tagged as plagiarist. While it’s very important to use direct quotes in some cases, paraphrasing is useful to ensure brevity in your written works. Make sure to read and understand your information sources so you can paraphrase them easily, eliminating the need for direct quotes. Of course, don’t forget to cite your sources at the end of your article to give credit to the original work and avoid plagiarism issues.
7. Construct an expressive, descriptive, and succinct ending.
If you started strongly, make sure to end just as strongly too. Resist the urge to impress your readers and just go ahead and write to express. Sum up the points you made so readers are reminded of them.
8. Edit and revise your work before it is sent or published.
After you’re done writing, rest for a while and get back to your work to check for any errors. Check your sentence and paragraph construction. Make sure your punctuations are correct. Don’t hesitate to omit words that are redundant. Reread your work to ensure brevity. It’s also advisable to ask an editor to check your work for you.
The process for clear and effective writing may seem arduous, but if you follow it the rewards are gratifying. You’ll start sending and sharing messages that are informative, direct, and engaging. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get good results at first. You’ll succeed in due time. Just make sure you’re willing to work hard for it.