Going Lean in Writing

25 Sep

Here we republish a writing effectiveness tip that has previously appeared on this forum. That’s how important we think it is!


We are part of an industry where so much hinges on the spoken and written word. For PR agencies, as for companies in media and publishing, it makes sense to have some writing guidelines, some rules to live and work by.

Our own Style Guide at The PRactice compiles tips from other published guides, mixing them in with norms that are accepted in Indian writing. And given that content is such a big part of what we produce, some of the most important sections in the Guide are the ones that focus on effective writing. One page titled ‘Avoid Superfluous Words’, explains why less is more when it comes to writing.

It’s everywhere around us – this tendency toward verbosity. In newspaper stories; in online and offline content.

Author and self-described agent of change, Seth Godin, also notes a widespread tendency to use words that don’t add up to much. Here’s his example of verbal padding: “The firm will remain competitive in the constantly changing market for defense legal services by creating and implementing innovative and effective methods of providing cost-effective, quality representation and services for our clients.”

Why even bother, says Godin. Write nothing instead. It’s shorter.

How do you trim the fat in your writing? Our Style Guide has a solution: ruthless editing. The goal should be to cut your piece down to where ‘it cannot be condensed further, even by a single word’.

Removing redundant words from a sentence can make it more readable. Look at these examples from the Guide to see how:
• An expert in the field of macroeconomics – a macroeconomics expert
• The process of industrialisation has taken its toll – industrialisation has taken its toll
• The volume of demand has fallen – demand has fallen
• We need to provide a summary of the day’s events – we need to summarise the day’s events

Try it the next time you sit down to write something. It works! We cut this post down from 380 words to about 350 without losing any substance. And we won’t be surprised if it could use more editing!

2 Responses to “Going Lean in Writing”

  1. bodhisattvasiddhartha September 25, 2012 at 10:49 am #

    Reblogged this on Jay .

  2. bodhisattvasiddhartha September 25, 2012 at 10:49 am #

    Reblogged this on Jay .

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