Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tighten Your Writing: Heed the Six Signs

At Attorney at Work, Gary Kinder offers six signs that may lead you to tighten up your writing. Here’s his first:

Sign 1: “.” (the Period)

 You will find more unnecessary words at the end of sentences than you ever imagined. This “overexplaining” is information your reader already knows or easily assumes. Because this typically occurs at the end of a sentence, find each period and examine the last few words. Does your reader need them? If they form a prepositional phrase, the likelihood increases you can remove some or all. If you have time and the assignment warrants, also look for unnecessary prepositional phrases elsewhere.

But the facts of Hall are not analogous to the present matter.

Upon Court approval, this Stipulation will become an Order of the Court and the Debtors’ failure to comply with the terms set forth herein shall be deemed a failure to obey a Court Order.

He concludes:

Writing “needless” words forces your readers to determine which ones they “need” to understand what you are trying to tell them. By removing words with no meaning, you make your readers’ job much easier. It’s an evolutionary process. Heeding these simple signs will help to set that process in motion for a clearer, more concise document.


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