Posted by: magnussonllc | August 26, 2009

Writing Skills: Be Clear, Concise and Explicit

WritingDespite our best intentions, communications with others is often unclear. It’s important to be precise when writing.  This helps ensure the reader will understand the message immediately. Never assume that readers are familiar with the topic or context of the message. Expect that the reader’s mind is clogged with various unrelated thoughts while they are reading your message.  As a result, they may easily forget the topic you are addressing.

 These are some useful guidelines to keep messages explicit, clear, and concise:

 Use simple words

Long sentences and pompous expressions won’t impress your readers. Business communicators, who are conscientious of their audience, try to use plain language that is clear in meaning. They avoid showy words, long sentences, and colloquialisms.

Stuffy

Straightforward

Abbreviate Shorten
Accordingly  So
Acquaint yourself with Learn
Advantageous Helpful
Ascertain Determine, find out
As per your request As requested
Assumption Belief
At the present time Now
Cognizant of Aware of
Commence/inaugurate Begin, start
Consummate Close
Conversant with Familiar with
Due to the fact that Because
Encounter Meet
Endeavor Try
Evident Clear
Furnish Provide
Inasmuch as Because
In lieu of Instead of
In regard to About
In the event that If
In the neighborhood of About, roughly
On the occasion of When
Of considerable magnitude Large
Peruse Review, study
Precipitated Caused
Predicated on Based on
Prior to Before
Pursuant to According to
Subsequent to After
Transmit Send
Utilize use

 

Don’t catch the buzz

Don’t use pseudo-sophisticated words or techno-babble to show others how smart and business savvy you are. Your readers won’t be impressed and you risk coming across as insecure and uniformed about the subject. Although business buzzwords have become rather commonplace in office conversations, they are out of place in written communication.

State your points positively

It’s easier for readers to grasp what is or should be rather than what’s not and shouldn’t be. Positive language generally conveys more information than negative does.

“The customer shouldn’t eliminate the feature for version control”

 In this sentence we have two negatives which could create confusion. When this sentence is rewritten in appositive way, the meaning is immediately clear and instructive:

 “The customer should keep the feature for version control”

 Similarly, write what there’s more of instead of what there’s less of.

 What’s less: The customer pays much less attention to risks than to costs for this project.

 What’s more: The customer pays much more attention to costs than to risks for this project.

 Drop unnecessary words

Over an entire document, unnecessary words add up and waste a readers’ time. If you cut the number of words in your document in half, the readers will grasp your message much more quickly. To make every word count, start by eliminating unnecessary or repetitive phrases that add nothing to your overall message.

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