Simple tips help in communicating clearly and concisely

Janet Arrowood
Janet Arrowood

Ready to improve the clarity and conciseness of your writing? Here are a few simple tips to help.

Minimize or avoid the use of words ending in “ly.”

One adjective per noun is usually (more than) enough.

Avoid double negatives.

Minimize or avoid introductory clauses: They usually weaken your argument or detract from the point you’re trying to make.

Avoid misplaced modifiers: Make sure those afterthoughts are placed in the correct part of the sentence. For example: “I saw a statue of the general walking across the military base.” Really? A walking statue?

Reduce the use of $5 words and phrases and chose instead the 50-cent versions. Use “end” versus “terminate” and “stop” rather than “drive to completion.”

Minimize prepositional phrases. For example: “make utilization of” should be “use.”

Edit your writing with two goals: to shorten sentences or split them into two or more sentences. Strive for an average of 10 to 15 words a sentence and a range of three to 30 words.

Break long paragraphs into two or more paragraphs averaging two to six sentences each. Single-sentence paragraphs are fine.

Look for lots of commas in sentences to see if there’s a list lurking there. Use bullets for lists to call attention to information, ensure parallel items and make your document easier to follow.

Minimize or avoid such pronouns and pronoun-like words as it, he/his, she/her, this, that, their, those, them and these. Use the noun instead. For example: “His father was disabled while he was still in high school.” Who was disabled? The father or son?