Business Writing

Less is more

23. 6. 2014

Avoid using multiple words when one will do. For some reason people seem to think they sound more intelligent, more authoritative, more ‘I don’t quite know what’, when they use more words and long sentences.

All they really do is create distance with their readers. They make it harder for readers to find the message.

Here are some examples.

Commonly Used Expression Plain English Replacement
For the purpose of For
The majority of Most
In order to To
Provide an introduction Introduce
On a daily basis Daily
On a regular basis Routinely
Furnish an explanation for Explain
Afford an opportunity Let, allow
At an early date Soon

Now the thing you need to remember about these tips is that they are tips, not rules.

Look at this tip. Use one word rather than more than one—but only when ‘it will do’.

You see, there will be times when the Plain English version of what you write uses more words. When this happens you will be replacing a multisyllabic, perhaps archaic, word with short, simple, easily understandable words. For example you might write, ‘get around’ in place of ‘circumvent’.

Think about what you’re writing; think about the audience; think about clarity. Then use the best word or words for the job.

Here’s the link for “The A to Z of Alternative Words” from the Plain English campaign. It’s a great resource for helping you to write clear English.

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