The ABC’s or essentials of writing – in this blog I would like to share some thoughts on writing where the intent is simply to communicate information. This is basically the aim of any news story or instruction manual or annual report. Some important points we all need to consider are:
Accessible – the language in the text should be “accessible”, conveying information that can be digested and absorbed quickly and easily. A sentence that has to be read two times is one time too many.
Basic – the vocabulary should be straightforward and understandable (this is not the time to force your reader to break out a dictionary or untangle a phrase). And why use in spite of or in despite of when despite is sufficient; why use at a previous time when before works just as well.
Clear – the phrasing and syntax should be concise and uncluttered; writing to transmit information needn’t be an occasion to befuddle, bewilder, confound or confuse. Save that for your novel or blog.
Of course, we could go on – there are many more adjectives from D to Z.
Writing well isn’t so much about what is theoretically or linguistically possible in English (or any other language for that matter), rather what effectively and efficiently conveys the information readers need. Clean, clear, plain, simple language.
But at the same time the text should not be boring, repetitive, overused, trite or tired. Ah, here comes the red pen again. When we write we have to find our acrobat within, precariously perching on a tightrope or balance beam – how do we avoid confusing while simultaneously not boring our readers?
And when is a perfectly good word not a good word? Maybe when it’s bad – or major or key? In The Wall Street Journal’s blog this week they discuss the recent frequency of this trio. It seems that it’s a little too easy to recycle the latest pop adjectives. You can read the full transcript of the blog here. Again, I would like to reiterate that all words just aren’t equal.
How can Tansa help with clean, clear text? One way is by using the Tansa Administrator actively to prompt users to reconsider the most-recent-tired-and-overused word or phrase of the week. Next week there will surely be new contenders for the No. 1 spot.
To read this article in Spanish, click here.