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Tips for concise writing

1 December 2011
Galit Lieber

We read and write throughout our entire day. It is therefore beneficial to be aware of the advantages of concise writing and use it as often as possible.

Concise writing obligates us to consider any written word that enables conveying short messages and data while keeping them precise, clear, devoid of any double meanings, or tiring reading experiences.

Concise writing is the product of much early, strict consideration of ways to simplify the data and display it; this thought process involves not only phrasing the information but also organizing it.

This article will include some tips and ideas for concise and organized writing that will ensure a simple and comfortable read while emphasizing the bottom line the text wishes to convey:

  • Use short and simple sentences.

    • Avoid using words that extend the sentence while not contributing to its meaning. For example, "she dresses in a strange manner" can easily become "she dresses strangely".

    • Display restrictions and conditions in a separate sentence rather than including them in a long sentence. For example, "direct debit can be cancelled, if the customer does not have previous debt and did not use the service during the last 14 days" should be broken down into:

Direct debt can be cancelled under the following conditions:

  1. The customer has no previous debt

  2. The service hasn't been used during the last 14 days

  • Display a process in one of the following methods:

    • Numbered stages (1, 2, 3)

    • Flowchart

Select a method according to the amount of information involved in each stage of the process and according to the cases in which the process will be implemented (during a conversation or during theoretical learning).

If each stage includes much information, they can include links to further information.

If the process's objective is to activate the reader, begin each stage with a command or verb, for example: 'save the file' rather than 'the files are then saved".

  • Use tables when comparing/splitting information. Tables catch the eye and "air out" your text.

  • Use pictures/screenshots in an intelligent way when they add value to the text.

When added, pictures can be referred to via hyperlink. Thus, they do not burden the information by catching much attention.

  • When displaying several separate points (i.e. not a sequence or process), use bullets and organize them according to a leading principle: alphabetical order, level of importance, etc.

  • Monitor what you wrote; ask other to review your text to ensure it is comprehended correctly.

In conclusion, concise writing coupled with an intelligent use of titles, pictures and highlighting brings the text close to the reader, that now understands it quickly and easily.

This text will be considered serious, practical and evidently the result of planning and consideration.

I recommend implementing concise writing in everyday situations as well, when writing emails, letters and notices.


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