Our natural desire to be heard and sound important tends to spill into our writing, and we often repeat ourselves. How to keep your writing concise, persuasive and punchy is a much-needed skill in PR, journalism, business and all forms of communications.
How can you write more concisely and persuasively? These 9 essential tips will help you:
- Eliminate unnecessary phrases and redundancies.
- Correct: We will be home in ten days.
- Incorrect: We will be home in a period of ten days.
- Use clear and straightforward language.
Correct: I have noticed many weeds growing around the building.
Incorrect: It has come to my attention that there is a vast proliferation of undesirable vegetation surrounding the periphery of this facility.
- Write in active voice.
- Correct: This week, the committee decided to vote on the issue.
- Incorrect: A decision to vote on the issue was made by the committee this week.
- Shorten wordy phrases.
- Correct: John will call me if he can go.
- Incorrect: John will let me know in the event that he can get away and make the trip.
- Avoid starting sentences with “there is”, “there are”, or “it is”.
- Correct: Four officers report to the captain.
- Incorrect: There are four officers who report to the captain.
- Eliminate extra nouns.
- Correct: Karen was interested in data processing.
- Incorrect: Karen was interested in the data processing field.
- Eliminate filler words such as “that”, “of”, or “up”.
- Correct: I said I was tired.
- Incorrect: I said that I was tired.
- Correct: I stepped off the curb.
- Incorrect: I stepped off of the curb.
- Correct: I got on the ladder.
- Incorrect: I got up on the ladder.
- Delete words that don’t add anything to your sentence
Many workplace documents are weighed down by the following words: generally, basically, actually, kind of, really, virtually, totally, essentially, completely, practically, literally, and just.
- Correct: Because the pandemic strained our hospitals, we had to reconsider hiring new doctors.
- Incorrect: Because the pandemic completely strained our hospitals, we had to essentially reconsider hiring new doctors.
Because we figure out what we think by writing, we often repeat ourselves as we get closer to the best version of our ideas.
- Correct: Our current staffing problems have been exacerbated by a combination of low salaries and the rising cost of housing for renters and buyers in our target cities. (27 words).
- Incorrect: Our current staffing problems have been exacerbated by a combination of low salaries and the rising cost of housing. Because it has become more expensive for employees to rent or buy homes in our target cities, we are not able to attract employees with our current salaries, which leads to staffing difficulties. (52 words).