Thursday, September 04, 2008

Writing for the Reader, Tip #1

In the past half-dozen years I've noticed a tendency among those who mistake lengthy words for wisdom to overuse "preventative" as an adjective and as a noun. Really, saying or writing "Caution is a preventative measure" doesn't make the speaker or writer seem any more intelligent than "Caution is a preventive measure." I always assume (no doubt wrongly in some instances) that people who use the long form are trying to sound intelligent.

You'll come off as more intelligent if you use shorter words; they help readers get at your concepts faster.
--Mike http://www.michaelabanks.com4

3 comments:

Alice Teh said...

I love short sentences, Michael. There's a certain punch to that apart from them being easy to read, etc. Sometimes, long sentences have their place too but too many is a kill joy.

adam banks said...

In keeping with the theme of pointing out writers mistakes, over use of the word 'that' is a written pet peeve of mine...

Michael A. Banks said...

That's to the point, Adam! I overuse "that" to the point where I have to do searches for the word and edit them out before I pronounce a manuscript complete.
--Mike