3 ways to write concisely

16 July 2009

     The 17th century French philosopher, Blaise Pascal, once wrote to a friend, ‘I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I have not had the time to make it shorter.’

      In last week’s post we talked about motivating people to read.  But whether people are motivated by results, rationale or relationships, everyone wants business documents to be as short as possible.

      How do you write concisely?  Here are three ways to get you started:

  1. Think about precisely what information you must include to achieve the purpose of the document.  Then say it.  No more.  No less.
  2. Use the words an everyday 21st century human normally uses.  Stop writing like 19th century British civil servants in Hong Kong.  And stop using their documents as ‘model’ templates.
  3. Limit each sentence to a single idea – with an average length of 15-20 words.  You do NOT have to write like the text of a primary one school reader—‘Look at my dog.  His name is Spot.  I love my dog.’  

 

     Pascal’s quote implies that writing concisely takes time.  But that’s what it takes to give platinum level service to our busy readers. 

 (There are many other ways to write concisely.  See the ‘Stage Four – Trim’ chapter in Business Writing with TASTE.)

 Notice how short this post is? :o) 

Copyright 2014 DeGolyer Associates Ltd |  Contact Deborah at:  writewithtaste@me.com