Friday, January 6, 2012

Effective Business Writing Uses Simple Language

We've been advised all our lives to write simply. Avoid the passive voice.  Use active, descriptive language, and vary the length of our sentences. We all know this is good advice, and yet we tend to ignore it. As a result, our writing often seems formal or stiff. Maybe the desire to impress others causes us to get lost in the language rather than focus on the message.

The words and phrases in the “Poor choice” column below are examples of what to avoid. They’re wordy, sometimes trite, and usually awkward.  It’s interesting that we use such phrases when we write, but we rarely use them when we speak. Since the style of modern business writing is more casual and conversational, making your business writing sound more like a conversation with your audience will help you avoid wordy or awkward phrases that don’t add to meaning.

Extra embellishments in your writing impress no one but you.  If you truly wish to shine as a writer, be simple. As Leonardo da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Simple writing has clarity and impact.

Don't say: Do say:
in order to to
deem think
in the event that if
the reason is due to the reason is
due to because of
send by return mail mail
on account of because of
in the last analysis in conclusion
hence so
acquire get
in view of the fact because; since
accordingly so
inasmuch as; in view of because; since
comprises; constitutes is
be aware of the fact that know; understand
nevertheless however; but
the foreseeable future the future
for the reason that; due to the fact that; because; since
furthermore then
at all times always
in this day and age today; now; these days
as to whether whether
along the lines of like
in the neighborhood of about; approximately
in case of if
ascertain learn
on the basis of by
transpire become known
peruse look over; study; read
utilize use
nevertheless however; but
with the result that so that
use up use
will you be good enough to please
absolutely essential essential
consequently so
with reference to about
in the absence of without
make a decision decide
on behalf of for
the overall plan the plan
utmost perfection perfection
of the utmost importance most important
that being the case therefore
realize a savings of save
a number of several

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