Tight and Bright: How to Declutter Your Language

Many people dread putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to write letters, memos and reports. They don’t know what to say and they don’t know how to say it. They end up cluttering their composition with fancy phrases and stilted language, and their message gets lost in the muddle. Here are some tips to avoid that trap:

1. Know your audience. Are you writing to invite your cousins to a family reunion? Then you can be informal and conversational. Or are you writing an annual report that will be scrutinized by the executives at head office? Your tone will be formal, but not flowery. Simple words are always appropriate.

2. Pare it down. Write “now” instead of “at this point in time,” for example, or “money” instead of “monetary units.”

3. Use the active voice. Write “I made a list of writing tips,” not “I have been occupied in the writing of a list of composition tips.”

4. Use the right tools for the job. Keep a dictionary and style book handy. Look for templates and writing samples online. Use a word-processing program that fixes spelling mistakes and alerts you to grammatical errors.

5. Don’t use slang: It will not be understood by many of your readers, and it won’t stand the test of time.

6. Ask a friend or colleague to edit and proofread your work. A fresh set of eyes can often spot spelling mistakes and missing words. If they don’t understand a phrase, you can be sure most of your other readers won’t understand it, either.

7. Read it aloud: If you stumble over a passage, so will your readers.

8. Keep a list of common writing problems. And refer to it often.

By applying these simple rules you can clean up your text and your message will be bright and clear. Once you know what to say and how to say it, writing those letters, memos and reports will no longer seem like such a daunting task.

If you enjoyed this article, please pass it along to others who would find it useful and sign up for our Organize Anything newsletter on our homepage at http://www.organizeanything.com

© 2010 Colette Robicheau
The Organizing Coach
Organize Anything
Phone: (902) 233-1577

Permission to reuse or redistribute these materials is hereby granted provided they are reproduced or redistributed in their entirety with full attribution.


About Organize Anything

Colette is a Gold Leaf member of the Professional Organizers in Canada (POC). Through the Canadian Redesign Association (CRDA) she has received the designation of Certified Interior Redesigner. She is also a member of the U.S. professional organizing associations National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) where she has the Golden Circle distinction and is a member of Intsitute of Challenging Disorganization (ICD) where she is the first in Canada to receive her Certified Professional Organizer –CD (Chronic Disorganization) ®, ADD and CD specialist Certificates. Among her many distinctions she has also earned Level I certificates of study in Chronic disorganization (CD), Basic Mental Health Conditions, Learning Styles and Modalities, Basic ADD Issues, Physical Conditions, Client Administration and Understanding the Needs of Elderly.

Posted on August 11, 2015, in Office, Productivity and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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