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Does your writing pass the clarity test?

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by on
in Workplace Communication

Clear writing signals clear thinking. To tidy up your text:

Count words per sentence. After completing your first draft, count the number of words in each sentence and compute the average. If it’s between 15 and 20 words per sentence, you pass. But if you’re routinely writing long, convoluted sentences, you’re forcing readers to fight to figure out your point.

Example: In a letter asking customers to reply if they didn’t want their financial data sold to third parties, American Express sent a rambling missive with an average sentence length of 32 words. No wonder few customers responded.

Choose one adjective. Stringing synonyms together bores readers. Pick the best one and delete the rest.

Example: Replace “He had a tentative, uncertain, hesitant manner” with “He had a tentative manner.”

Make verbs stand alone. A lawyer might tell you to “cease and desist,” but it’s better to just write “stop.”

Also, look for phrases you can replace with verbs. Examples: Substitute “We’ll take into consideration” with “We’ll consider” and “I’m of the opinion that” with “I believe.”

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