Friday, May 24, 2019

Clear, concise, and effective English for law students, bar examinees, and legal writers in organizations, private companies, and government offices (10): How to write clear, concise, and direct sentences

1. “Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.” — “Elements of Style” by Strunk and White

2. “Short sentences are not an end by themselves. As legal writers, your goals are short and clear sentences.” As Napoleon Bonaparte emphasized to his runners who brought messages to his battlefield commanders, “Make it clear! Make it clear! Make it clear!”

3. “Techniques in creating clear, concise, and direct sentences” (The Writing Center, University Wisconsin – Madison):

  • Unless you have a reason not to, use the active voice. Put the action of the sentence in the verb. 
  • Reduce wordy verbs.
  • Use expletive constructions (“It is,” “There is,” “There are”) sparingly. 
  • Try to avoid using vague, all-purpose nouns, which often lead to wordiness. 
  • Unless your readers are familiar with your terminology, avoid writing strings of nouns. 
  • Eliminate unnecessary prepositional phrases.
  • Avoid unnecessarily inflated words. 
  • Put wordy phrases on a diet.

4. “Writing Concise Sentences” (from The Guide to Grammar and Writing, sponsored by the Capital Community College Foundation in Hartford, Connecticut)

5. “Identifying and addressing wordiness in sentences” (from The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
  • Eliminate redundant pairs
  • Delete unnecessary qualifiers
  • Identify and reduce prepositional phrases
  • Locate and delete unnecessary modifiers
  • Replace a phrase with a word
  • Identify negatives and change them to affirmatives

6. “How to Sculpt Concise Sentences (So Your Message Becomes Clear and Strong)”

7. Writing Concise Sentences

8. Lesson 16: Wordy Sentences

9. Keep it Simple: Clearer, Concise Sentences

Free seminars:

1. “English Proficiency Course” (4 hours; for college students, K-to-12 teachers, other groups)

2. “Clear, concise English for effective legal writing” (3-5 hours; for Student Councils, academic organizations, fraternities, sororities, NGOs, LGUs, any interested group; test yourself with the interactive exercises)

Seminars are for Metro Manila only. For more information or to schedule a seminar, please contact Atty. Gerry T. Galacio at 0927-798-3138.

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