A recent survey showed writers and readers alike crave conciseness. Of all the plain language writing guidelines, conciseness plays a top role. When I measured the volume of information I had 'deleted' when editing documents for plain language projects, more than 50% had been removed on average. If you look at Rewrite's cost calculators for writing emails and other messages, the expense of over-writing becomes clear. So what are five things you can do to write more concisely?
5 tips on reducing the number of words
1. Write in a conversational tone, using words the reader understands.
2. Use active voice - who does what - for a clearer style of presenting information.
3. Always look for a shorter word (administration - we or they), or single word to replace a phrase (on a daily basis becomes daily).
4. Avoid jargon by finding an everyday term.
5. Keep sentences (25 words or less) and paragraphs (1-5 sentences) short.
Just these five simple techniques will strengthen your plain writing, build stronger client connections and help you stand out from the crowd. Begin building your plain language style guide with these points. Enjoy the clarity.
Kate Harrison Whiteside has over 25 years experience in plain language, writing/editing, training and consulting.