Top 10 Tips to Help You Write Tight and Edit Tough®
- Write not for yourself but for your reader, who craves brief, clear, to-the-point messages.
- Before you write one word of an email, know the following:
What (is the message)?
Why (am I writing this)?
Who (am I writing it to)?
Where (will this message be seen)?
When (will it arrive)?
- Put the crux of an urgent email in the subject line.
Re: Your presence required at New Business meeting Friday, 1:00 p.m.
- Use action verbs instead of “to be” verbs to ignite instant images in your reader’s brain.
I ran here; I jogged here; I sauntered here; vs. I am here.
- Write in the active voice instead of the passive voice. It’s shorter. Faster. Stronger. More direct. More forceful.
Mistakes were made. vs I made mistakes.
The plan was approved. vs. We green-lighted the plan.
- Delete all qualifiers--just, a little, somewhat, I think, perhaps, maybe, of course—that diminish the power of a sentence.
- The job of adjectives and adverbs is to prop up weak nouns and verbs. Try to avoid them, unless they’re key descriptors: number, color, weight, age, gender.
- Edit as you go because it makes the final job easier.
- Every sentence in a paragraph should help develop that paragraph’s single idea.
- Finally, and most important. If it doesn’t have to go in, leave it out!