My Gift to You: A Practical Top 10
As 2011 comes to a close, we’ll start seeing a lot of “Top 10s” for the year…best movies, best books, etc. As you might expect, my list focuses on writing, and it contains 10 practical tips you can put to work right away.
1. Get organized before you write. If your process is disorganized, the result is apt to reflect that.
2. Know your audience. Think about who will be reading your work, so you can use the appropriate tone and content.
3. Avoid using corporate or industry jargon. Unless you’re writing for a narrow (internal) audience, don’t use words or phrases that may cause confusion.
4. Use active voice. Express action in a direct way, and your writing will be more compelling.
5. Think short. You may lose readers if they get bogged down in long, multi-clause sentences.
6. Be simple. Write to express, not to impress. Readers won’t rely on a dictionary if they come across an unfamiliar word; they’ll probably stop reading.
7. Remember less is more. Cut out unnecessary words and clauses during your editing process.
8. Consider your page layout. Break up long paragraphs. Use bullet points and white space. Make your written materials pleasing to the eye.
9. Don’t skimp on editing. Always review your work before you send it out and ask someone else to take a look at more important pieces.
10. Use online tools with caution. Don’t rely on spell check as your only editor, since it won’t catch misused or missing words. The grammar check can be even more dicey, as it often suggests nonsensical options.
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