Posted by: Jack Henry | February 22, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Keep it short

Donna is out of the office, but she left us lessons for the next few Mondays. Here is the first installment!


Good Monday morning, folks.

While reviewing one of my editing books, I came across this superb advice for everyone who is writing professionally—including all of us who write emails and other communications. The text below (except for my asides) is from The Editor’s Companion by Steve Dunham (pp. 34−35).

How can you write more clearly?

· Use short sentences.
[dbb – This is some of the best writing advice you’ll ever get. Short sentences are the most effective way to convey highly technical, challenging material.]

· Write to one person, not a group.

· Use the simplest tense you can.

· Use “must” to convey requirements.

How can you make your documents visually appealing? [dbb – Rather than “visually appealing,” I’d say, “easier to process.”]

· Use lots of informative headings.

· Write short sections.
[dbb – This advice goes along with the advice to write short sentences. It is much easier to digest information in small chunks.]

· Include only one issue in each designated paragraph.
[dbb – Yes! This is crucial to your organization and your readers’ understanding.]

· Use vertical lists.
[dbb – We’re talking bulleted and numbered lists here. They are very helpful in presenting detailed information.]

“Those who write clearly have readers; those who write obscurely have commentators.” ~Albert Camus

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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