Archive: Effective Writing

Becoming a Better Writer

People often ask how they can improve their writing, and the answers are write every day, read extensively, and be a student of writing. You might think everyone writes every day, and that’s true, but it helps to write a few paragraphs about something other than the...

Be More Precise in Your Description

If you want to improve your writing, learn to be more precise in your description. In email messages, policy memos, or feature stories, your goal is to be exact. Readers do not want a general notion of what you mean. At a minimum, ambiguity dulls writing by making it...

Writing Advice: Ask for Explanation

There is an abundance of writing advice out there, either on the Internet or from a grammar cop in the office, but it is not always the best answer. Don’t be afraid to ask the person to elaborate or do a little research yourself. When you ask people a “how...

AP: No More Hyphen in Email

The recent announcement from the Associated Press that it was dropping the hypen in email sent language traditionalists into a dither, but if the concern is poor writing, there are bigger issues to focus on. The AP Stylebook, the most widely used guide to editorial...

Trim Surplus Modifiers

Adjectives are valuable parts of the language, but they often just embellish writing, like surplus ornaments on a Christmas tree. It is fine to refer to “an important proposal” or “an enthusiastic manager” because each adjective helps to...