Jul 13, 2011

Seven Tips for Better Writing

Good writing is not just about substance – style is often just as important. You might be the most expert of all experts, but nothing will undermine your credibility more than an email/business plan/blog post riddled with errors and typos.

To put your best foot forward and get readers to focus on the substance of your communications, follow these simple tips for improving your writing:

Pick a style, any style. It doesn’t matter if it’s the AP Stylebook, Chicago Manual of Style or The Elements of Style, pick a style and be consistent with it. I promise it will help your writing.

Write Like You Talk. Or, in the words of Paula Abdul, make it your own. After you’re finished writing the article, press release, blog post – whatever – read it out loud. If it sounds stilted, make changes.

Less is More. If you can say something in 10 words instead of 20, do it. That is all.

Use short paragraphs. James Patterson once said his use of short chapters is one of the reasons his books are so successful. You can apply this to your writing with short paragraphs. Long paragraphs make readers think they don’t have enough time to read the entire post.

Use bullet points. For the same reason you should write in short paragraphs – posts with long paragraphs could be daunting for many readers – you should consider using bullet points whenever possible. Not only will it make it easier for you to write (especially if you’re writing for an online outlet, which often means multiple posts each day), but it’s also easier on the reader.

Spllchek. If you wnt pepole to take you serriusly, run a spellchek on whatevr documint you write, wethur a private email or sumthing for publik consumpshion.

Check, and double-check, your facts. If you say your company is the only one making thingamajigs, make sure it’s true – especially because things can go viral so quickly nowadays.

Do you agree/disagree with these tips? Any you would add?

Written by Maria Perez, director of news operations for ProfNet, a service that helps journalists connect with expert sources. To read more from Maria, visit her blog on ProfNet Connect at http://www.profnetconnect.com/profnetmaria/blog/

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