Monthly Archives: February 2014

CLARITY CLINIC—4 Steps to Eliminate Wordiness

Last week’s blog shared this tip from Tim Radford’s “25 Commandments for Journalists”:  No one will complain because you made something too easy to understand.

To write clear, easy-to-understand sentences, journalists as well as business and technical writers must eliminate all unnecessary words.  But, when should this word elimination—this editing—take place?  And how do we eliminate unnecessary words?  However tempting to your internal critic, don’t edit while you write. Don’t interrupt the natural flow of your writing. Instead, write quickly and deliberately. While writing, you can use your computer’s yellow highlighter to mark an imprecise word or a rough sentence. After you have written your email or report, you can return to polish those rough spots. During that editing stage, you can apply the following 4 Steps to Eliminate Wordiness. The goal is sentences that can be read once and immediately understood. Read more ›


7 tips for Business & Technical Writing gleaned from “25 Commandments for Journalists”

The Writing Center’s November 2013 through January 2014 blogs featured tips adapted from our newly updated Writing Effective Performance Appraisals course. Now we return to tips adapted from our instructor-led and online Business Writing, Technical Writing, and Business Grammar courses.

Tim Radford, former Science, Letters, Arts, and Literary Editor of the British Guardian, collected “25 Commandments for Journalists” for his writers over the years. Among those, the following 7 tips are especially applicable for Business and Technical Writing. Tim Radford’s commandments are presented in italics. The Writing Center’s insertions and suggestions for implementing the commandments are provided in brackets.

 Tip #5—Clarity.  No one will complain because you made something too easy to understand. [To be clear, eliminate all unnecessary words, and include all words necessary for meaning. Define technical vocabulary. Present content in logical order. Enable your computer’s Readability Statistics feature (in your Proofreading options) to gauge whether your sentences’ length interferes with your document’s readability.] Read more ›


What are some tips for writing balanced Performance Appraisal comments?

As you review your Performance Appraisal comments, ensure that:

  1. Performance from the entire review period has been given equal weight. To prove that you have done so, from your documentation, select examples that typify the employee’s results and desired behaviors. In your comments, mention timeframes, such as ‘Since first quarter, Mark has steadily improved ABC accuracy each month, moving from 88% in March, to 90% in April, to 92% in May.’  Or, ‘During June, July, and August, Sherrie was Team Leader for ABC Accuracy.’ Read more ›

How can a manager prevent Haloes, Horns, and other performance rating pitfalls?

In Performance Appraisals, what are some ways to prevent Haloes (rating an employee higher than results merit), Horns (rating an employee lower that results merit), and other rating pitfalls such as stereotyping, applying subjective standards, and rating all employees the same? The following approaches may be helpful:

  • Develop a very clear definition for each performance factor and its supporting behaviors. Read more ›