Too often writers simply over-write. Sentences are long. Paragraphs are long. And the final piece—a memo, letter, or report—is much longer than it need be.
Clear, concise text can be achieved through proper editing. Spend a few moments tightening your copy, and your piece will exhibit the professional flair you seek. Whoever said “less is more” had it right.
Entire books have been written about editing. Here are some common writer’s mistakes.
Passive voice instead of active voice
In some cases—notably when delivering bad news—the passive voice is appropriate. But by using the active voice you give your copy a sense of energy and vitality. The result is clear, concise text.
– The motor was repaired by Dave.
Dave repaired the motor.
– The contract was faxed to Bry Co. by Jenny on Monday.
Jenny faxed the contract to Bry Co. on Monday.
– Receipts and warranties should be sorted before filing.
Sort the receipts and warranties before filing.
Watch for these (and many more), as they crop up in everyday speech and writing. Solutions are in parentheses.
– Past history (history)
– Future projections/visions (is there be any other type?) (projections; visions, goals, plans)
– Depreciate in value (depreciate)
– Filled to capacity (filled)
– Current status (status)
– 9:00 a.m. in the morning (9 a.m.)
– Few in number (few)
– Free of charge (free)
Get right to the point by cutting flab from your text. Simple editing may be all you need. Some examples include:
– It has come to our attention…
– Terry has the authorization to… (Terry may…)
– It is her expectation that…
– Many dealers were in attendance. (Many dealers attended.)
– Everyone was inclined to believe… (Everyone believed…)
– At the time the customers arrived… (When the customers arrived…)
– They all arrived at a consensus. (They agreed.)
Remember that the real work of writing is not done in the first draft. It’s done by means of fast but careful editing. So, invest another couple of minutes in a review and quick editing of your message and reap the benefit in clarity, power and memorability.
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