person writing editing or proofreading

10 Tips for Better Writing

Want to improve your writing? Here are 10 tips that will help you do just that. Whether you’re writing a PhD thesis, a blog post or a business report you’ll be able to up the quality of your work.

1. Put the document aside and come back to it later

Take a break. Close the Word doc and do something else for a while. When you return to writing or editing you’ll find that you’re more focused and more objective. Concentration is key, especially when editing and proofreading, and if you find your eyes start glazing over a bit it’s best to take a break.

Make sure you budget enough time so that you can properly edit.

2. Don’t write and edit at the same time

Write first and edit later. When you’re writing don’t worry about spelling or style. These things can be fixed up later during the editing process. Writing, especially writing first drafts, is all about getting ideas down on paper. You can shape and form these ideas later.

3. Don’t edit and edit and edit and edit and edit and…

Put the document down, son. We all know that feeling of never being quite satisfied with written work and constantly fiddling with it as a consequence. You have to let it go.

4. No clichés. They’re a fate worse than death

This one’s an oldie but a goodie. Editors get a bee in their bonnets about clichés and you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll have a bone to pick with you if they spot any.

It’s better to be safe than sorry. Blaze a new trail and avoid clichés.

5. Proofread on paper. Edit on the screen

It can be hard to catch our typos while reading on a screen. It’s best to do hardcore proofreading using a hard copy. Errors are easier to pick up.

6. Proofread footnotes too

If you’re working on a Masters or PhD thesis, don’t neglect your footnotes. Pay attention to format and style according to the relevant style guide. Also, try increasing the font size on your footnotes for proofreading purposes. It will make them easier to read.

7. Get rid of wordiness

Once you’ve finished a first draft, read it and ruthlessly cut any unnecessary words or phrases. Here are some common words or phrases that should be revised or just deleted:

  • ‘Due to the fact that’ — use’ because’
  • ‘For the purpose of’ — use ‘to + verb’
  • ‘In the even that’ — use ‘if’
  • ‘In order to’ — use ‘to’
  • ‘certainly’, ‘absolutely’, ‘definitely’, ‘completely’ — delete
  • ‘very’, ‘even’ ‘just’, ‘really’ — delete

8. Use short sentences

The only exception to this rule is if you’re David Foster Wallace. I guarantee you’re not so limit sentences to 15 to 20 words. The occasional long sentence is fine but don’t make a habit of it.

9. Make your writing specific

Instead of writing ‘John was a nice man’, tell the reader what it was about John that made him nice. Readers like concrete details and writing in generalities does not add a lot or engage the reader as much as specific facts.

10. Use headings

Headings are are key organisational tool, especially if you’re writing academic, non-fiction or business documents. No one wants to read a mass of text. Headings break up the document and give the reader an idea of what you’re going to talk about and where you’re going to talk about it.

 

ebook editing proofreading

Hire an ebook Editor

The internet is full of content. It’s constantly pushed in front of us in the form of blogs, tweets, comments, posts and articles. Why will your ebook stand out? And why should a reader pay to read what you wrote?

Readers rely on credibility when determining the value of written work. They won’t slog through subpar content or writing in the hopes of finding something interesting or valuable and subpar content does not equal credibility. An ebook editor builds and ensures the credibility and profressionalism of your written work. Publishing a book is difficult as it is and this is why editing is so essential to your book’s success.

Expert writing skills

For first time ebook writers an ebook editor is essential. The ability write well is something that takes time to develop and a less experienced writer is guaranteed to benefit from the suggestions and advice of a more experienced ebook editor. Also, ebook editors can give you advice not only about spelling, grammar and punctuation, but also the more creative aspects of writing such as organisational structure, flow and tone of the writing.

Professionalism is key

Your writing is an extension of your brand. If written work is awkward, sloppy or unclear it reflects poorly on the author and the authority of your brand. An ebook editor can ensure that your ideas are expressed clearly and succinctly. If the writing is good, the author or the company will look like the professional organisation that it is.

Engaging a professional editing service can significantly increase the quality of your ebook. It can mean the difference between a successful stand-out publication and becoming part of the internet’s background noise.

rand31 provides editing, proofreading and writing services to clients in Australia and around the world.

George Orwell’s 6 Rules for Writing

George Orwell – best known as the author of 1984 and Animal Farm – published an essay in 1946 called Politics and the English Language. You can find a copy of the essay here. In the essay Orwell draws attention to what he sees as the awful (and even dangerous) written English and, in particular, the political language of his time. Orwell saw political language as being deliberately unclear in order to hide the truth, ‘to make lies sound truthful…and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.’

Political writing, along with certain other kinds of writing are in Orwell’s view guilty of ‘pretentious diction’ and using ‘meaningless words’, the result of which is pretentious, lifeless and sometimes just meaningless writing.

Orwell’s solution was 6 rules that would prevent writers from slipping into this kind of bad English. The rules are worth following and would still prove useful to some written work even today. Here are the rules:

1. Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

2. Never use a long word where a short on will do.

3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

4. Never use the passive voice where you can use the active.

5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

The quality of writing coming from some government departments, corporations, management consultants and others would improve substantially if these rules were taken to heart.

rand 31 provides editing, proofreading and writing services to clients in Australia and around the world.