How to Write Clearly

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Whenever you write an email, proposal, or report, it is up to you — not the reader — to make sure your point is understood. Here are three ways to ensure your ideas aren’t misinterpreted:

  • Adopt the reader’s perspective. Put yourself in the reader’s shoes to assess your clarity. Better yet, ask a colleague to summarize the main points of your draft from a quick read-through.
  • Keep your language simple. Strive to use short words and sentences. Aim for an average of 20 words or less in each sentence. With every one, ask yourself whether you can say it more briefly.
  • Show, don’t tell. Be specific enough that readers draw their own conclusions (that match yours, of course), as opposed to expressing your opinions without support and hoping people will agree.

Adapted from the HBR Guide to Better Business Writing.

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