Better Online Letter Writing Tips
AVOID BIG WORDS
Some writers prefer to use big, important-sounding words instead of short, simple words. This is a mistake; fancy language just frustrates the reader. Write in plain, ordinary English and your readers will love you for it.
PREFER THE SPECIFIC TO THE GENERAL
Your readers want information facts, figures, conclusions, and recommendations. Do not be content to say something is good, bad, fast, or slow when you can say how good, how bad, how fast, or how slow. Be specific whenever possible.
BREAK UP YOUR WRITING INTO SHORT SECTIONS
Long, unbroken blocks of text are stumbling blocks that intimidate and bore readers. Breaking up your writing into short sections and short paragraphs makes the text easier to read.
If your paragraphs are too long, go through them. Wherever a new thought starts, type a return and start a new paragraph. In the same way, short sentences are easier to grasp than long ones. A good guide for keeping sentence length under control is to write sentences that can be spoken aloud without losing your breath.
Drawings, graphs, and other visuals can reinforce your text. In fact, pictures often communicate better than words; we remember 10 percent of what we read, but 30 percent of what we see.
In the days when letters were written on typewriters, the idea of using visuals was out of the question. Today, software makes it relatively easy to add a chart, table, or graph to your letter. Why not do so, if it helps get your point across in a clearer and more persuasive fashion?
USE THE ACTIVE VOICE
Voice refers to the person speaking words or doing an action. An “active verb” stresses the person doing the thing. A “passive verb” stresses the thing being done. In the active voice, action is expressed directly: “John performed the experiment.” In the passive voice, the action is indirect: “The experiment was performed by John.” When possible, use the active voice. Your writing will be more direct and vigorous; your sentences more concise.