Let’s explore why you should care about writing better—and six easy ways to do it.
Why would you want to write better?
You may write more than you realize as more communications move online. You probably write emails, reports, and presentations at work. Then, you write texts and notes at home. You can improve both your career and personal life with good writing.
Good writing is clear and concise. It can help you:
- Land a job. Eighty-two percent of employers seek out writing skills on candidates’ resumes. You can more easily land jobs with proven writing skills.
- Appear more professional. Good writing is the mark of a qualified employee. Proficient writing shows coworkers and managers that you are a top-notch professional.
- Spread an idea. Readers are more likely to understand and like your thoughts if they’re easy to comprehend. They may put down your report if it’s too difficult or messy.
- Avoid miscommunication. Miscommunication can be a big problem at work. Good writing ensures that no readers are confused or mistaken about your meaning.
- Clarify your thoughts. You should use an outline to structure your writing. This tool can help you figure out complex ideas.
Good writing comes with a lot of benefits. So how can you write better? Follow these six easy tips.
Tip #1: Think about your readers
Every composition of writing is for someone, whether that person is your boss or a shopper at the grocery store. Your goal is to write a piece that your readers can understand and learn something.
Consider your audience before you write anything. It may help you to think about some questions as you brainstorm. These might include:
- Who are you writing to?
- What do you want to convey?
- What is the context? (e.g., work, a conference, personal life)
Dedicate every inch of your writing to helping your readers understand your idea in the appropriate tone for the context.
Tip #2: Create an outline
Outlines are vital to good writing. Think of them as the guide rails. They help you plan and express your ideas. They are the key to learning how to write better.
Outline all of your writing, from emails to reports. It can be as basic or complex as you’d like. A framework for a blog post may look like this:
- Introduction to business challenge
- Business challenge
- Point 1
- Point 2
- Point 3
- Business solution
- Point 1
- Point 2
- Point 3
- Repeat main challenge for businesses
- Repeat solution for businesses
- Final catchy sentence
An outline like this will help your writing stay on track as you write.
Tip #3: Keep sentences simple
Your sentences should be simple enough that your readers can review them quickly.
Simplify sentences by:
- Using understandable words. Don’t use complicated words where simple words will work just fine. For example, a term like “use” is almost always better than “utilize.
- Cutting extra words. Cut adverbs, like very. Delete overused phrases, like for all intents and purposes. Avoid in my opinion or I think.
- Shortening sentences. Long sentences tend to confuse readers. You can break a lot of sentences in half. Rethink every comma you use. Some of them are must-haves, but a lot of them aren’t.
- Writing directly to your audience. Writing to “you” instead of indirectly referring to your audience is an easy way to simplify sentences.
Simple sentences will make it easy for you to write better and for your readers to follow along.
Tip #4: Embrace space
Big blocks of text are hard to read quickly. Give your reader some space to help them digest your writing faster.
Certain tools will make it easy for readers to fly through your writing. Include:
- Short paragraphs. Try not to exceed five sentences per paragraph. Don’t be afraid of using a single sentence as a paragraph, either.
- Bullet-point lists. Use bullet points when you need to list three or more items. Your readers can quickly digest the material.
- Subheadings. Subheadings can help organize longer works. They are common in blog posts and white papers. Long emails can benefit from them, too.
Remember: your goal is to empower readers to understand your content quickly. White space in your content will help them do that. It’s also one of the easiest ways to write better.
Tip #5: Cut, cut, cut
You’ll do a little cutting in your sentences. The same idea applies to your writing overall. Cut sentences, cut paragraphs, and cut sections. The sleeker your writing, the better.
But what should you cut? Look for:
- Fluff. We say qualifying and filler sentences all the time. It’s natural to speak that way. Fluff is hard to read. Cut any sentences or phrases that meander.
- Lack of focus. Every sentence of your writing should contribute to the main idea of your piece. Cut sentences and paragraphs that don’t add meaning or clarification.
- Repetitive sections. You only need to say an idea once. Look through your writing to find sentences that simply reword an idea. Repeating ideas in the introduction and conclusion of a longer piece, like a white paper or eBook, is okay. It isn’t necessary in a shorter article.
Cutting unnecessary content is a pivotal way to write better.
Tip #6: Edit and proofread
Your first draft will not be your final draft. This is the case for any of your writing. You need to edit and proofread everything before sending it out to the world.
There are a few ways to make the editing process more manageable. You can:
- Use tools with grammar and spell checks. Write with an app that offers syntax and spell checks. Microsoft Word, for example, has a tried-and-true grammar and spell check system. It makes proofreading much simpler and more accurate. The subscription version also includes Microsoft Editor, an intelligent writing assistant.
- Let your first draft sit. It’s hard to see mistakes when you’ve been looking at your writing for a long time. Leave your first draft alone for an hour or so (or a day, if you can), then return to it and re-read. You’ll find a few things to fix right away.
- Read your writing aloud. Your ears can easily catch sentences that sound awkward. Read your composition out loud to find sentences to reword.
Extensive editing and proofreading are a great way to write better. You can feel confident sending your writing out into the world once you’ve finished proofreading.