Just say it plain

Have you ever received a letter from a government department or business and had to read it three times to get their point?

It continues to amaze me that many people think it's better to use ten words when five will do the same job and get your reader there faster. There's a fear that if they use plain and simple language, their work will be "dumbed down" and - heaven forbid - they won't sound important!

Recently I was proof-reading a corporate document for one organisation, and the writing was so stilted it was exhausting to get through. I didn't think the writer was clever or important by making me work so hard to understand what they were on about. I just felt annoyed.

Presumably, you're not seeking to annoy your audience when you write something. You want your information to be absorbed and understood. The way to do that is to make it easy for your reader - even if they're a professor or someone you think is very clever. Even highly qualified people don't like having to wade through needless words to find out what they need to know.

So, keep your writing simple. Address your reader directly by using words like "I" and "you", and think about how you'd say it out loud if you were telling someone your information. Then, use the basis of your imagined conversation as your written version.

Keep it straight and plain, no fancy stuff. Your reader will thank you for it. And they just might understand what you're trying to tell them.

Neryl EastComment