Because of my background in the journalism field I love teaching writing and am lucky enough to do it often.
One thing people tend to do, particularly if they are not native speakers, is over-explain and make things too complicated. They feel, erroneously, that simple writing is baby writing. It is actually the opposite – a perfect sentence is one that says exactly what you want in as few words as possible. It is actually extremely difficult to do this.
Here are some quotes to bear in mind when writing
- I am sorry I have had to write you such a long letter, but I did not have time to write you a short one. Blaise Pascal.
- The best style is the style you don’t notice. Somerset Maugham
- Easy reading is damn hard writing. Nathaniel Hawthorne
General Writing Tips
- Get is a lazy word – find a better one! (e.g. receive an email, obtain permission, catch the train)
- Keep your sentences short and simple. A sentence that takes up more than two lines is too long!
- Read your document aloud to find any sentences that do not ‘flow’ and discover grammatical errors.
- Remember to capitalise language, nationality, religion, days, months.
- Be consistent with spelling.
- To avoid using his/her throughout a document, use their (Each visitor to Sweden must be prepared to show their passport upon arrival)
- Ask someone else to proofread your document.
- Use your grammar and spelling checker. Make sure to set it to UK/British English.
- if you are writing a speech, write co-ordinate and co-operate with a hyphen (-) to stress that it has two separate syllables.
- Do not use fancy fonts if you are emailing a document. The person you are sending your document to may not have the font and their computer will use another one, perhaps changing your layout.
I joined Barclays Bank when I left school, and over the years honed my letter writing skills. I was always taught to keep it simple and brief, and that advice has worked for me. In my last job I heard the acronym “KISS” which stands for Keep It Simple Stupid”, which is a bit more amusing, but again, quite relevant. I feel that business correspondence should follow this advice, whereas personal letters need not be so terse.
“Their” is plural. “His/her” are singular. Why not use “one’s”?
That is perfect if you use it once but often you need to use it several times per sentence which is very clunky.