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The easier and brighter and shorter the writing, the more likely it will be read and remembered.

  • Use short sentences: no more than 15-20 words if you can help it. The best way to shorten sentences is with periods. Lots of them. Close together.
  • Short paragraphs: long paragraphs give an overall appearance of a mass of gray when in print. So lighten up. For openers, you might try just one sentence per paragraph. I seldom use more than three sentences in a paragraph.
  • Easy words: Use the simple word instead of the complicated one. Avoid technical terms. Avoid jargon (especially Extensionese).
  • Active verbs: they keep things moving. For examples of active verbs, check sport pages (beat, whipped) or recipes (beat, whipped). Of course there are lots of other action verbs that just plain move readers better than “be” verbs such as “is,” “was,” and “are.”
  • Personal words: the more personal the writing, the higher the human interest. Use quotes, names, and personal pronouns when you can. I wouldn't say, “One should not throw stones in glass houses.” I would say, “You should not throw…” or “Don't throw…” where the subject is the understood you. Or “Joe should not…” where the subject is a name.
  • Get to the point FAST! Most people are in a hurry and have a short attention span. When they read a newspaper, they may only glance at headlines and first paragraphs. If you don't get their attention fast or if you don't get the most important points high in the story, readers will miss them. Anyway, editors usually edit by cutting from the bottom. If your good stuff is at the bottom, it may get chopped off.