Want to look smart? Learn how to write clearly and concisely!
Writing has never been more important as we all spend hours every week writing emails. Although this list applies to nearly all business and promotional writing, I wouldn’t suggest applying it to essays and creative writing.
This is, however, a great checklist the next time you sit down to write anything. I know I’ll be using it to polish up the article I wrote last week.
Here’s a few tips to follow to improve your writing process:
- Determine the purpose. Start out by jotting a few notes: Who is going to read this? What main points do you want to make? What actions do you want to inspire the reader to take?
- Structure the outline. Even a simple business letter or email improves drastically with a little forethought. Clarify what you are communicating and plan the flow of the piece.
- Keep paragraphs short. My general rule is to keep paragraphs under 3 sentences for most purposes. Think about thick, black blocks of impenetrable text. Don’t you find that daunting as a reader?
- Use bulletpoints, highlighting, and subheads. These “reader entry points” help a reader scan and follow along with what you are saying. They make reading easier. Plus, they often show the writer when a point or paragraph is unclear.
- Know your style. Most people don’t realize that many writing styles exist, each with its own set of rules. Most business people are familiar with Modern Language Association (MLA), which is taught in English class. Publications use Associate Press (AP) style or Chicago Manual. The science and education fields use American Psychological Association (APA).
So often, bad writing results from rushed, sloppy words. Good writing can evoke joy, teach new skills, inform and entertain, and improve lives, not to mention increase your paycheck!