As a non-native English speaking, I am convinced that rules to boost written communication are always useful. Out there we can find out lots of unclear texts, constructed by long sentences wrongly punctuated. Thus, their messages get lost, and their purposes are not effective.
This blog aims to highlight some basic ideas that will help you to improve your professional writing. This time, other than my ideas, my main source is the book called ‘Powerful Writing Skills’ by Richard Andersen.
According to him, clarity, coherence and organized ideas are the three pillars of successful writing. Everything you write is a chance to make a good impression. But it is important to not lose your personality by using the monotone of what you´ve been taught to admire as `professional writing´.
So, to better communicate and inspire your readers to act, you should:
- Make your words talk: If the reader needs to read more than once what you wrote to understand it, something is wrong. Don´t be stick too close to the standard phrases as ´Pursuant to…´, instead, use your language. We are human beings no robots. Keep in mind that ´not just because we work for an institution we have to sound like it´. Also, organize and present your ideas by targeting your reader. Think about what he/she might: ask you, object to, already know or find interesting.
- Writing and editing for style: Your style is the way you say and do things. It makes you different from anyone else and makes you unique. Andersen mentions that most of us don’t know what our individual writing styles are because we were never given the opportunities to discover them. He proposes the following suggestions about your style:
- Don’t write any word that you wouldn´t say
- Don’t substitute the impersonal ‘one’ for ‘you’, ‘we’ or ‘I´
- Use contractions, as this present ourselves as warm, accessible and friendly.
Nevertheless, using your own style doesn’t mean you should write exactly like you talk. For instance, we have different speaking voices; we speak one way to children, parents or bosses. So basically, write to a colleague or supervisor in the voice you would use when speaking to them.
Yet, after finishing your writing make sure that it:
- is easy to understand
- gets and sticks to the point
- is accurate
- doesn´t contain unnecessary words and,
- grabs attention.
3) Take care of paragraphs: Good paragraphs have unit and coherence. For instance, unity means to stick one idea in each paragraph. Coherence in particular, includes logical order, consistent point of view, key words and transitional words or phrases.
Last but not least, no rule governs length of paragraphs. However breaking a long paragraph in two even if not necessary can be important visual aid.