Posted by: Jack Henry | June 30, 2015

Editor’s Corner: Writing Tips – #3 Rewrite Passive Voice

Today’s article is a continuation from Thursday’s article “10 Top Writing Tips and the Psychology Behind Them,” by Josh Bernoff. (Website link available from last Thursday’s post.)

This particular tip deserves its own day, since it is one of the biggest problems we see in the writing submitted to our group.

Tip #3: Rewrite passive voice.

Why it matters. Passive voice sentences conceal who is acting and create uneasiness.

Why you write passive. Your writing teachers have trained you to write this way. Also, if you are insecure about what you’re saying, you hide it behind passive wording.

How to fix it. Figure out who the actor in the sentence is and make it the subject. For example, this Fortune article says that “New ingredients are steadily being added to the job-matching mix.” Rewrite as “Startup companies keep adding new job-matching techniques.”

Here are some more examples and suggested rewrites:

· PASSIVE: Account records can be created using the New Account function.

· ACTIVE: Use the New Account function to create account records.

· PASSIVE: A generic specfile that can be customized is provided by Symitar.

· ACTIVE: Symitar provides a generic file that is customizable.

· PASSIVE: Two NSF exception reports are created by the ACH posting process.

· ACTIVE: The ACH posting process creates two exception reports.

For other articles on the passive voice:



Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

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