Keep Your Writing Simple

When you’re writing for work, it can be tempting to rely on industry jargon or big words to puff up your ideas. But overblown language doesn’t make you sound smart, and it can be off-putting to readers. Most people are drawn to a more conversational tone. So, choose shorter, more familiar words and explain things in a way that anyone could understand. For example, write “things that could affect the merger” instead of “issues potentially impacting the successful completion of the merger.” Also, whether you’re writing an email or a formal proposal, make sure that your content is glanceable, since it probably will be read on a screen — and these days, often a phone. Assume that your readers will be distracted, busy, and on-the-go. Formatting can help: Try using subheads, bullet points, diagrams, and tables to highlight your key takeaways. Short sentences and short paragraphs help too. A good rule of thumb is “one thought per sentence.” If there are too many linked ideas in one sentence, your readers may get lost and just give up.

This tip is adapted from “Writing About Business (Without Being a Bore),” by Mike Reed