10 Tips for Writing with Clarity

Author: Philip Vassallo - Ed.D
Content or documentation is an integral part in any business. The business success is also depended on the capability to draft messages with clarity and focus. No matter whether you are drafting an influential e-mail to a client, an interesting story for news release, or a disappointing note to a colleague, your writing requires to be precise, convincing and to the point. Excessive wordiness (often caused by passive constructions) can perplex readers and in the process make readers spend more time in trying to understand your sentences rather than the ideas that you wanted to convey. The process of writing clearly involves frequent rewriting. Here are 10 tips for writing with clarity.
1. Connect the Subject and the Verb
UNCLEAR: The S3-F classification, which OSHA recommends for surroundings with high humidity, salinity, and pollutant concentration, will be used. CLEARER: The S3-F classification will be used, as OSHA recommends it for surroundings with high humidity, salinity, and pollutant concentration.
2. Keep like Elements Parallel
NONPARALLEL: Reducing friction in bearings is important for efficiency, to reduce wear, facilitating extended use at high speeds, and avoidance of overheating of the bearings. PARALLEL: Reducing friction in bearings is important for maximum efficiency, decreased wear, extended use at high speeds, and reduced overheating.
3. Avoid Noun Chains
UNCLEAR: The dewatering conveyor system upgrade installation construction project plan appears in Table 3. CLEARER: The installation plan for upgrading the dewatering conveyor system during the construction project appears in Table 3.
4. Eliminate Unnecessary Pronouns
WORDY: Over the most recent quarterly period, it has been noticed that there has been a significantly dramatic decrease in the number of complaints that customers have made about service which has been slow. (33 words) CONCISE: Last quarter, customer complaints about slow service decreased significantly. (9 words)
5. Remove Redundancies
WORDY: Over the most recent quarterly period, it has been noticed that there has been a significantly dramatic decrease in the number of complaints that customers have made about service which has been slow. (33 words) CONCISE: Last quarter, customer complaints about slow service decreased significantly. (9 words)
6. Crunch Phrases into Words
WORDY: Over the most recent quarterly period, it has been noticed that there has been a significantly dramatic decrease in the number of complaints that customers have made about service which has been slow. (33 words) CONCISE: Last quarter, customer complaints about slow service decreased significantly. (9 words)
7. Begin with the Most Important Point
WEAK: Structural Engineering conducted a site inspection. At the location of the leak, corrosion of the waterproofing material was observed. Thus, for this location, the inspection recommends that new waterproofing material be installed. STRONG: A Structural Engineering site inspection recommends installing new waterproofing material at the location of the leak. STRONG: Installing new waterproofing material at the location of the leak will stem corrosion observed during the Structural Engineering site inspection.
8. Prefer Action Verbs Over Being Verbs
UNCLEAR: The fact is that there are three cases that are in support of us to be aggressive. CLEARER: Three cases support an aggressive approach.
9. Use Active Voice
PASSIVE: The disconnect switches were inspected by the electrical engineer and were determined to be in good condition, so they will be used by the operator. ACTIVE: The operator will use the disconnect switches, because the electrical engineer determined them to be in good condition.
10. Correct Mechanics
WRONG: If the Pilot or Co-pilot window probe senses the temperature out of tolerance the affected regulator will transfer control to the opposite regulator, and will turn on the transfer light. RIGHT: If the pilot or co-pilot window probe senses the temperature as out of tolerance, the affected regulator will transfer control to the opposite regulator and will turn on the transfer light.

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