How to Write Better: Beyond KISS

What else will help your writing besides the KISS rule? (Keep It Simple, Stupid) Here are a few tips:

1. Pay attention to writing you like and find easy to read. What does the sentence structure look like? What word choices did the author make?

2. Use bullet points early and often.

3. Use white space the same way. Whether online or in printed material, break your big paragraphs down into digestible sections.

4. Read what you’ve written out loud. Yes, it might seem crazy with longer papers and documents, but it will help you catch your errors. You’ll also get to hear for yourself whether something sounds too clunky and is too difficult to understand.

5. Read shorter documents, like letters or short papers, from the end to the beginning. You’ll take yourself out of the flow of the document and doing so will help you catch correctly spelled but misused words (your/you’re, their/there) as well as missing words.

6. Make sure you use the word you think you’re using.  Infer is different than imply, for example. For a list of commonly misused words, go here.

7. Know your grammar. “Between he and I” is not correct. Here are a few grammar books that might help you out.

What are some tips for following the KISS rule?

• Don’t use big words when a short, easy word will do, not even professionally. For professional and academic writing, sprinkle in just enough jargon and sophisticated vocabulary so your audience has confidence in you, but remember that a little goes a long way. Even lawyers don’t like reading legalese.

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• Use short sentences and short paragraphs.

• Don’t use extra words, such as more than one preposition:  Shorten phrases such as “in order to,” (to) “with regard to” (about), and “in the event of” (when).  Always look for ways to cut words.

For a longer list of writing tips, visit Daily Writing Tips.

Do you have friends or colleagues who could use help with their writing? Please send them a link to this article.


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