As the world moves faster, resulting in less time and limited attention spans, it is more important than ever to write with clarity and brevity. With just a few tweaks you can do just that:
- Use strong verbs and the active voice.
Make the subject perform the action in sentences to keep them shorter and more impactful. The active voice requires fewer words to communicate the same idea as the passive voice.Passive Voice: The brakes were slammed by Nancy as the car sped down the hill.
Active Voice: Nancy slammed on the brakes as the car sped down the hill.
- Vary the length and structure of your sentences.
Change the order of the subject and verb, use clauses and vary your sentence opening (do not always use The, It, This, or I). Good writing has a rhythm, which can be achieved through the use of creative vocabulary and varied sentence structure. To check if your work has good rhythm, go to #3.
- Read your writing aloud.
When you listen to the words you have written, you are able to “hear” the rhythm of your writing and can quickly identify if your writing sounds awkward or redundant.
- Tailor for your audience.
Imagine all the key questions the reader would ask about the subject matter and answer them in the simplest language possible. Try to write for the education level of the audience.
- Share and edit.
Always have another person review your work to identify any problems. Deadline permitting, get away from the first draft (at least a few hours – the more the better) then read it with fresh eyes. Rinse and repeat.
Follow these steps to configure Microsoft Word to check automatically for many of these issues:
- Click on the File tab in the top left
- Select “Options” on left
- Select “Proofing” on left
- Under “When correcting spelling and grammar in Word” click on “Settings”
- Under “Grammar” scroll down and check all of the items you want Word to check for