How to Simplify Your Writing

simplify your writingI received several emails about my recent post on how to improve your copywriting.  Rebecca Kalajian sent me a link to the UK-based Plain English Campaign, “an independent pressure group fighting for public information to be written in plain English.  We have more than 10,000 registered supporters in 80 countries.”

What a great idea!  We’re all extremely busy – why should we have to muddle through tedious, long-winded documents in our personal or professional lives?

Simple, straightforward English is

  • Faster
  • Friendlier
  • Easier to comprehend

Whether you’re writing an email, a product spec, web copy or a proposal, you can accomplish far more if you write in plain English.  You’re not dumbing down your ideas – you’re just presenting them more concisely.

“It’s not an amateur’s method of communication,” they say.  “Most forward-looking senior managers always write in plain English … Sadly, thanks to the bureaucrats of public service industries, local councils, banks, building societies, insurance companies and government departments, we have learned to accept an official style of writing that is inefficient and often unfriendly.”

So how can you simplify your writing style?

Here are some recommendations from their Guide to Plain English:

  • Keep your sentences short
  • Prefer active verbs
  • Use ‘you’ and ‘we’
  • Choose words appropriate for the reader
  • Use positive language
  • Use lists where appropriate

The guide then looks at the difficult subject of apologizing, then deals with some of the myths that can get in the way of clear communication.  It also includes a blacklist of words to avoid.

Thanks for your messages – keep them coming!

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