More Writing Rules

Last month I wrote a post about five useful writing rules. I received a lot of positive feedback, so here are five more! I hope you’ll find them useful.

  1.  Don’t apologize for an opinion. Many writers overuse “in my opinion,” “I think,” and “I feel.” You’re allowed to have opinions! Just say what you think: “We should approve Carole’s plan at the next meeting.” “Professor Brown gave a terrific lecture yesterday.” “The proposal for the new road is a mistake.”
  2. Explain abbreviations the first time. Yesterday I had to track down INRA (which turned out to be an agricultural research organization in France) for something my husband was writing. It should have been spelled out in the article he was reading.
  3. Get rid of empty and unnecessary words. I personally feel is the same as I feel. A personal friend is the same as a friend. Three different times is the same as three times. Seven individual members are seven members.
    Very, rather, and respective take up space while adding nothing to your meaning. Etc. is another bit of writing clutter that tells your readers nothing. Use “as the rest” instead. Or – better yet – finish the list.
  4. In general, don’t use more than three commas in a sentence (unless you’re making a list). That fourth comma should warn you that your sentence might be too complicated. Your readers may be having a hard time deciphering your meaning.
  5. Impress with your ideas, not big words and fancy syntax. Pomposity never fooled anyone.

Know the Rules


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