LANNcp13.doc - 13Editing for Readable Style1
LANNcp13.doc - EDITING FOR CLARITYEDITING FOR CONCISENESSEDITING FOR FLUENCYFINDING THE EXACT WORDSADJUSTING YOUR TONEGUIDELINESfor Deciding about ToneGUIDELINESfor Nonsexist UsageGUIDELINESfor Inoffensive UsageCONSIDERING THE CULTURAL CONTEXTLEGAL AND ETHICAL IMPLICATIONS OF WORD CHOICEUSING AUTOMATED EDITING TOOLS EFFECTIVELY2
LANNcp13.doc - You might write for a diverse or specific audience, or for experts or nonexperts. But no matter how technically appropriate your document, audience needs are not served unless your style is readable.What is writing style,and how does it influence user reaction to a document? Your particular writing style is a blend of these elements:•the way in which you construct each sentence•the length of your sentences•the way in which you connect sentences•the words and phrases you choose•the tone you conveyReadable sentences require correct grammar, punctuation, andspelling. But correctness alone is no guarantee of readability. For example, this response to a job applicant is mechanically correct but inefficient:We are in receipt of your recent correspondence indicating your interest in securing the advertised position. Your correspondence hasbeen duly forwarded for consideration by the personnel office, which has employment candidate selection responsibility. You may expect to hear from us relative to your application as the selection process progresses. Your interest in the position is appreciated.Notice how hard you have worked to extract information that could be expressed this simply:Your application for the advertised position has been forwarded to our personnel office. As the selection process moves forward, we will be in touch. Thank you for your interest.Inefficient style makes readers work harder than they should.Style can be inefficient for many reasons, but it is especially inept when it•makes the writing impossible to interpret•takes too long to make the point•reads like a Dick-and-Jane story from primary school•uses imprecise or needlessly big words•sounds stuffy and impersonalRegardless of the cause, inefficient style results in writing thatis less informative, less persuasive. Moreover, inefficient stylecan be unethical—by confusing or misleading the audience.To help your audience spend less time reading, you must spend more time revising for a style that is clear, concise, fluent, exact,and likable.3
LANNcp13.doc - EDITINGFORCLARITYA clear sentence requires no more than a single reading. The following suggestions will help you edit for clarity.AVOIDAMBIGUOUSPHRASING. Workplace writing ideally has onemeaning only and allows for oneinterpretation. Does a person’s “suspicious attitude” mean that he is “suspicious” or “suspect”?
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