How to Write Clearly

Why is Clarity Important?

clarityImagine you have a brilliant thought you want to share with others (this is one of the main motives for writing, in fact). So, you spend days or even weeks expressing your thoughts on paper; in other words, you put your soul into what you write. However, when you share your writing with your friends or unfamiliar people, they seem to understand little or nothing from what you have written, or do not seem to be impressed as they should be. You might ask yourself: what is the problem?

The answer is clarity. Your writing is not clear enough. If your readers do not follow along with your message, this means you used words that were not precise enough, or your sentences are too long, or the idea itself is vague and raw; reasons can be numerous. advice

How to Achieve Clarity?

1. Clarity necessarily assumes simplicity in formulations of thought and explanations. Hence, do not use sentences like the previous one. Imagine your audience consists of children up to 7 years, whom you need to explain concepts like quantum mechanics or geopolitics. This approach will greatly stimulate your creative capabilities, making you seek for simple words and phrases.

2. Make it clear to yourself what you want to write about. Rather often, amateur writers have only an approximate direction in which they want to develop their ideas. Instead, compose a concise and precise topic sentence which reflects the core idea of your writing.

3. Though it may seem boring, start your writing by creating an outline. This will help you keep your thoughts on the topic structured.

4. Use shorter sentences. The longer a sentence is, the more chances your reader will be distracted, or will lose focus. If you have noticed a lengthy sentence, the best way to deal with it is to break it into two or even three sentences. Another method is to restate it, avoiding complicated word orders. This will help you cut at least 30% of the words you thought were necessary.

5. Use active voice whenever possible. Passive voice is useful when the subject of a sentence is unknown or does not matter (e.g. Helen has been abducted!). Otherwise, strive to use active voice, as it makes sentences more dynamic and engaging.

Typical Mistakes

- Excessive use of words and phrases that do not contribute to the meaning of a sentence.
e.g. What I want to say is that strawberries are actually not berries.

- Overusing certain phrases such as: “The point I wish to make is that…,” “In my opinion, the problem of…,” or “The fact of the matter is that…” Such phrases only make your sentences longer without contributing to their meaning. Such constructions are tolerated in oral speech, but written language requires text to be more concise.

- Unclear logical connections. Sometimes a sentence is constructed in such a way that it may be difficult to distinguish its subjects and objects.
e.g. Censorship of media by governmental organizations is considered to be unacceptable by some people.

Clearer would be: Young Americans commonly consider governmental censorship of printed media to be unacceptable.

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