20 year content strategy veteran, Sharon Burton. Sharon Burton consults about content strategy, content business issues, social media and managing post-sales customer experience issues.

Clear writing basics

Writing is communication. Communication needs to be clear or it might as well not happen. Even in 140 characters, you must clearly state your message.

When I teach – engineers, professional writers, and more – I use the following guidelines for clear writing:

  • present tense
  • active voice
  • second person
  • 25 words or less per sentence
  • 3-5 sentences per paragraph
  • 3-5 paragraphs per section

    For many people, writing to these writing guidelines are the hardest part.

    Making it easy on your reader

    Regardless of what you’re writing, your writing can be made stronger by following these guidelines.

    Using second person lets us speak directly to our reader, making the writing more comfortable. Present tense places the action in the “now”, making it more interesting.

    Shorter sentences, shorter paragraphs, and shorter sections force you to organize your writing. These guidelines force you to think logically and express yourself logically.

    Your reader can only benefit from this.

    By Sharon Burton
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