Follow These Ten Tips for Clear Informational Writing

1) Identify your reader and write as if you were talking to that reader.

2) Be sure to use correct and common words to get your message across. Intellectual words often confuse, rather than impress people.

3) Don’t make ambiguous statements. They will raise more questions than answers.

4) Never use the word “etc.” You will force the reader to guess what you mean.

5) Strive to write short, simple sentences.

6) Write in the active voice, not the passive one. The subject should be the originator of the action.

It’s: Mary drives the car to work.
Not: The car is driven to work by Mary.

7) Read your work out loud for continuity and rhythm.

8) Don’t submit any piece of writing without rewriting it. You can let the first draft sit for a week, and then go back to it with fresh eyes and perspective. Personally, I write several drafts and space out each.

9) Ask someone you know who is a thoughtful reader to give you a candid opinion about anything that may be missing or not be well-written.

10) Proofread the final draft. There’s always an error that you’ll spot at the last minute.

About Charlotte Digregorio

I publish books. I have marketed and/or published 55 titles. These books are sold in 46 countries to bookstores, libraries, universities, professional organizations, government agencies, and book clubs. In 2018, I was honored by the Governor of Illinois for my thirty-eight years of accomplishments in the literary arts, and my work to promote and advance the field by educating adults and students alike. I am the author of seven books including: Haiku and Senryu: A Simple Guide for All; Everything You Need to Know About Nursing Homes; You Can Be A Columnist; Beginners' Guide to Writing & Selling Quality Features; Your Original Personal Ad; and my latest, Ripples of Air: Poems of Healing. The first four books have been adopted as supplemental texts at universities throughout the U.S., Canada, India, Pakistan, and Catalonia. They are sold in 43 countries, and are displayed in major metropolitan cultural centers. These books have been reviewed, recommended, and praised by hundreds of critics, librarians, and professors worldwide. I am also the author of a poetry collection: "Shadows of Seasons: Selected Haiku and Senryu by Charlotte Digregorio." Two of my books have been Featured Selections of Writer's Digest Book Club. I am regularly interviewed by major print, radio, and television organizations throughout the U.S. I regularly sign books at libraries, chain bookstores, and university bookstores, and do poetry readings at art centers, cafes, tea houses, and galleries. I was recently nominated for two Pushcart Prizes in poetry. I have won fifty-nine poetry awards, writing fourteen poetic forms. My poetry has been translated into eight languages. I do illustrated solo poetry exhibits 365 days a year in libraries, galleries, corporate buildings, hospitals, convention centers, and other venues. My individual poems have been displayed at supermarkets, apparel and wine shops, banks, botanic gardens, restaurants, and on public transit. I have been nominated and listed in "The International Authors and Writers Who's Who" in Cambridge, England and in the "Who's Who In Writers, Editors & Poets U.S./Canada." I hosted my own radio program, "Poetry Beat," on public broadcasting. My poetry has been featured on several library web sites including those of Shreve Memorial Library in Louisiana and Cornell University's Mann Library. My background includes positions as a feature editor and columnist at daily newspapers and as a magazine editor. I have been a public relations director for a non-profit organization. I am self-employed as a public relations/marketing consultant, having served a total of 118 clients in 23 states for the past several decades . In other professional areas, I have been on university faculties, teaching French, Italian, and Writing. I regularly give lectures and workshops on publishing, journalism, publicity, poetry, and creativity to business and professional groups, and at writer's conferences, universities, literary festivals, non-profit organizations, and libraries. I have been a writer-in-residence at universities. There have been about 400 articles written about me in the media. I have served on the Boards of writers and publishers organizations. My positions have included Board Secretary of the Northwest Association of Book Publishers. I served for five years as Midwest Regional Coordinator of The Haiku Society of America, and for two years as its Second Vice President.
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6 Responses to Follow These Ten Tips for Clear Informational Writing

  1. Merrill Ann Gonzales says:

    Hi, Charlotte, That advice about putting it away and coming back to it later is the best advice any writer can take. Sometimes I put things away for years and come back to them…not only to find out if what I said makes sense but to see if its still relevant. The odd thing is that this works for drawings too. I make pencil drawings before I ink them, and the best drawings always come from letting the drawing sit for awhile and coming back to it. The tiniest line can make a big difference. What we have in our minds at the moment usually takes some time to translate into communicable art.

    • Merrill, you make a good point. The written word and art are similar for many reasons, including the fact that when we review what we’ve created, we often realize we didn’t communicate well enough the first time around.

  2. maryct70 says:

    Terrific tips. I’m often encouraging employees to follow this advice, especially the use of active v. passive tense. It’s so refreshing to see others singing the same chorus. Thank you!

  3. Pingback: Follow These Ten Tips for Clear Informational Writing (via Charlotte Digregorio’s Writer’s Blog) | Odds 'N Ends

  4. #1 Mark Twain wrote in this style. I feel he is talking with me over the backyard fence or over coffee at the diner. It gives the reader a sense of individual intimacy with the writer.
    #10 Proof read: I give myself an A+ in being a top notch proof reader. However, I have never been vain in that I always have some one else proof read too. Often our mind tricks us into seeing what we expect to see and not what is there. I often type “the the” and seldom catch it.
    #5 Simple sentence optimum for newspaper read. I think adult readership populations internalize compound and complex sentences with ease but I would present that the compound-complex sentence tends to make us lose focus on the thought and I almost never use them. Mere simple sentence reads tend to insult me as does a lack of intellectual words. These words are especially needed as jargon for any particular “ology” or information writing. Language should begin to have levels of sophistication after elementary school paradigms have been mastered. I concede the simple sentence is best for pure information writing and sentence fragments may also be appropriate in information writing.

    In addition, I think the semi colon is cumbersome and usage makes no sense. Use a period and a new sentence. I never use it and have always instructed students to forget it exists as a punctuation mark.

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