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Writing with Clarity and Conciseness

Clarity means to write clearly with precise words so the reader


of your work knows exactly what you mean.

Conciseness means to be economical in your word choice using


the least amount of words to get your message across effectively.

Clarity + Conciseness = Understanding

Examples of writing that lack clarity:


News Headlines:
Squad Helps Dog Bite Victim
Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead
Stolen Painting Found by Tree
Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers

Insurance claims:
When I saw I could not avoid a collision, I stepped on the gas and
crashed into the other car.
She slipped on the ice and apparently her legs went in separate
directions in early December.
In an attempt to kill a fly, I drove into a telephone pole."

Techniques to Improve Clarity in Your Writing


Use transition words to build a bridge to connect related
ideas
http://grammar.yourdictionary.com/style-and-usage/list-
transition- words.html
Use correct pronoun reference
Ex: John described the new technology to Juan. He liked it
and wanted to learn more.
Use the active voice instead of the passive voice
Passive Voice: A safety training exercise will be completed by
the staff every year.
Active Voice: The staff will complete a safety training exercise
every year.
Keep and use a list of vocabulary words related to your field
of study

Examples of conciseness gone wrong (or use all caps


here and on clarity examples)
Here are a two sentence that are saying the same thing but one lacks conciseness.
Can you tell which one is more concise? Both were taken from a government
website called Plain Language that rewards direct concise writing in government
agencies.

1. When the process of freeing a vehicle that has been stuck


results in ruts or holes, the operator will fill the rut or hole
created by such activity before removing the vehicle from
the immediate area.
2. If you make a hole while freeing a stuck vehicle, you must
fill the hole before you drive away.
Which do you think is more concise?

For other examples check out the link below:


http://www.plainlanguage.gov/examples/before_after/wordiness.cfm

Techniques to Write Concisely (be consistent-either


caps or no caps)
Avoid vague language and meaningless expressions

Vague: In order to successfully accomplish their job occupations and duties,


the division has been needing more work space for some time now.

Improved: The team needs more workspace to do its job.

Avoid redundancy or repeating words or ideas

Wordy: We collaborated together on the project.

Improved: We collaborated on a project.


Dont overuse prepositional phrases

Weak: In the near future, at a convenient time, I will be asking for vacation
time.

Better: I will be requesting vacation time.

Avoid long sentences that confuse

Weak: On several different occasions, the manager of human relations met


with many employees to ascertain whether or not they were in agreement
with the companys policies with regard to expense reports.

Better: The manager of Human Relations met with two employees on three
different occasions to discuss expense report practices.

Putting It All Together: Your assignment is to write up a clear and


concise accident report making sure to include all the necessary
important details so the reader of the report (your boss)
understands exactly what happened. Follow the link to a blank
accident report from the State of Colorado Oil and Gas
Conservation Commission. There is also an example of a
completed accident report to the far right side of the row.
http://cogcc.state.co.us/forms/forms.html
Thank You!!
Script

Page 1: The topic of this lesson is writing with clarity and conciseness

Page 2: Have you ever been given verbal directions that are unclear? It is certainly frustrating to not
understand what someone wants you to do. One of the biggest communications issues in the workforce is
when a writers words lack clarity and conciseness. Clarity means to write clearly with precise words so the
reader of your work knows exactly what you mean. Conciseness means using the least amount of words to get
your message across. Conciseness requires you be economical is your word choice. The result of writing in a
way that lacks clarity and conciseness is that the reader will be confused and time will be lost rereading and
clarifying what was written.

Remember-When you combine clarity and conciseness you get understanding

Page 3:

Here are some funny examples of writing that can definitely be misinterpreted and misunderstood.

Do these news headlines confuse you?

News Headlines:
Squad Helps Dog Bite Victim
Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead
Stolen Painting Found by Tree
Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
How about these Insurance claims:
When I saw I could not avoid a collision, I stepped on the gas and crashed
into the other car.
She slipped on the ice and apparently her legs went in separate directions
in early December.
In an attempt to kill a fly, I drove into a telephone pole."

Page 4: Next are some techniques to improve clarity in your writing

Use transition words to build a bridge to connect related ideas

I have listed the link below to give you a list of transition words you can use in your writing

http://grammar.yourdictionary.com/style-and-usage/list-transition-words.html

Use correct pronoun reference-In correct pronoun reference like the sentence below leads to confusion in
meaning

Ex: John described the new technology to Juan. He liked it and wanted to learn more

Use the active voice instead of the passive voice- the passive voice emphasizes the action while the active
voice emphasized the doer of the action and the active voice is often easier to understand.

Passive Voice: A safety training exercise will be completed by the staff every year.

Active Voice: The staff will complete a safety training exercise every year.

Which sentence do you think is clearer?

Keep and use a list of vocabulary words related to your field of study. Many fields of study
have specialized vocabulary and it is important to become familiar with those words and their
meaning and use them to expand your writing skills.

Page 5 Examples of Conciseness gone wrong

It is important in the school or work setting to be able to express yourself with conciseness. If you become too
wordy often times you lose your audience.
Here are a two sentence that are saying the same thing but one lacks conciseness. Can you tell which one is more
concise? Both were taken from a government website called plain language that rewards direct concise writing in
government agencies.

1: When the process of freeing a vehicle that has been stuck results in ruts or holes, the operator will fill the
rut or hole created by such activity before removing the vehicle from the immediate area.

2: If you make a hole while freeing a stuck vehicle, you must fill the hole before you drive away.

Yes of course sentence 2 is more direct and to the point. For other examples check out the link below.

http://www.plainlanguage.gov/examples/before_after/wordiness.cfm

Page 6

Here are some techniques to use to write more concisely


First-Avoid vague language and meaningless expressions

Vague: In order to successfully accomplish their job occupations and duties, the division has needing more
work space for some time now.

Improved: The team needs more workspace to do its job.

Vague: Consumer demand is rising in the area of services.

Improved: Consumers are demanding more services.

Next- Avoid redundancy

Wordy: The other alternative is to install a relief valve

Improved: The alternative is to install a relief valve

Wordy: We collaborated together on the project

Improved: We collaborated on a project

Also-Dont overuse prepositional phrases they create confusion as well

Weak: In the near future, at a convenient time I will be asking for vacation time.

Better: I will be requesting vacation time.

Here is a great suggestion-Keep a list of vocabulary words especially related to your field of study
Please avoid long sentences that confuse the reader as you can see in this example shorter more efficient
sentences communicate more effective

Weak: On several different occasions, the manager of human relations met with many employees to ascertain
whether or not they were in agreement with the companys policies with regard to expense reports.

Better: The manager of Human Relations met with two employees on three different occasions to discuss
expense report practices.

Of course writing with clarity and conciseness is important in all types industries. It is especially important in
technical fields like process technology where safety and environmental issues are especially important.

Page 7

Lets put what we learned to practical use. Your assignment is to write up a clear and concise accident report.
Make sure to include as many important specific details as necessary so the reader of the report understands
all the important details and you have left no questions unanswered. Follow the link to a blank accident
report from the State of Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. There is also an example of a
completed accident report to the far right side of the row.

http://cogcc.state.co.us/forms/forms.html

Page 8

Thanks again

Remember to be a good communicator your writing needs to be clear and concise. Be conscious of the words
you use. It is a great skill to have and will be very valued in the workplace and in school.