Writing Topics: clarity

Sentences can be too simple

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When we run training courses, we often say that sentences should be short and simple. As a rule, short, simple sentences are easier to read and understand than long, complicated ones. But sometimes simplifying can make a sentence less clear. Here’s an example: “People are eating more fruit and vegetables.” It sounds simple enough, but […]

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Please, Santa, no more turd polishing

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The Christmas edition of The Big Issue carries a plea from its founder-editor, John Bird, for more clarity in dealings between the public and the state. In his editorial letter to Santa, Bird says clarity in parliament and on the part of the government is in short supply. Instead, he says “One feels that turd […]

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How reading about paleolimnology can improve your writing

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I’ve been enjoying BLDGblog for a while, and if you’ve got a few minutes to spare, while eating your sandwich or sipping your coffee, I’d urge you to have a quick read. Its author, Geoff Manaugh, is a contributing editor to Wired Magazine, and I like the blog because of its sharp take on architecture, […]

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What’s missing?

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[This entry originally appeared on Clare Lynch’s blog, goodcopybadcopy] I recently blogged about the perils of assuming too much knowledge on behalf of your readers (see “Why you should write for grandmothers and Martians”). Today I came across an example of writing where the most fundamental question in the reader’s mind was, very confusingly, left […]

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Writing for your boss? Just begin with “Dear Doris and Bertie”

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[This entry originally appeared on Clare Lynch’s blog, goodcopybadcopy] Occasionally I come up against resistance when I’m evangelising for plain English on one of the courses I teach. And the most common argument people give for refusing to change goes something like this: “But my boss wants me to use fancy words and jargon – […]

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Charming sub-penthouse benefits from Juliet balcony

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[This entry originally appeared on Clare Lynch’s blog, goodcopybadcopy] Whenever I read copy that’s trying to bamboozle me with jargon or hyperbole, I’m always very suspicious – all the more so if it comes from a business trying to sell me something. So if you’re in business and you want to win the trust of […]

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