Ten Tips for Writing Well

  1. Remember the basic structure of a sentence is: Subject – verb – object. Examples – I love you. The dog is brown. The report is long.


  1. Tell us who did what to whom by using the “active” voice. Example – The mailman delivered the letter to me (active voice). NOT – The letter was delivered to me by the mailman (passive voice).


  1. Avoid using strings of nouns as adjectives like this – “farm household cash flow management.” This can be more clearly (and elegantly) expressed as “cash flow management in farm households.”


  1. Never be afraid to state the obvious – don’t assume your audience knows as much as you do. You are intimately familiar with your subject matter, but your reader is reading it for the first time. He or she is entitled to be given definitions of all concepts or phrases you use, especially if they are only used within a given profession or field.


  1. But don’t think you have to tell us everything you know about a subject! Develop a storyline from your material. Start by writing a 10-point plan that develops the argument that you want to make and then gradually flesh out each of those points.


  1. Avoid all but the most obvious acronyms. Sentences like this one are unreadable even when you know what the acronyms stand for: The DMT of the MSBG is responsible for implementing the PRSGP but only in consultation with the ORT of the DMBG. See what I mean?


  1. Be consistent in how you use punctuation such as commas, semicolons, and parentheses.


  1. Don’t use lazy words – not “address” but “solve” or “cure” or “find a solution for.” Explore your full vocabulary.


  1. Don’t make incomplete comparisons. Make sure you supply all the words necessary to complete the comparative thought so that your reader doesn’t have to assume anything. For example: Wrong: She sings louder. Right: She sings louder than anyone else in the band. Wrong: This concert was better. Right: This concert was better than the one last year.


  1. Enjoy yourself! This is your chance to express yourself. Let the world hear your voice.