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Ten writing pitfalls A quick training session from.

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1 Ten writing pitfalls A quick training session from

2 1. Passive verbs Passive verbs are often queried by your spell/grammar check. ‘ Sam hit Jason ’ uses an active verb. ‘ Jason was hit ’ or ‘ Jason was hit by Sam ’ uses a passive verb. Active verbs are clearer and punchier.

3 2. Jargon Avoid jargon. The only exception is when you know for sure that the entire audience will know exactly what you mean. Using it here will give you credibility.

4 3. Inconsistencies in tense ‘ Their knowledge and experience is well known to their clients ’. What ’ s wrong with this sentence?

5 3. Inconsistencies in tense ‘ Their knowledge and experience is well known to their clients ’. ‘ is ’ should be ‘ was ’. Note that your spell/grammar check won ’ t pick up this sort of error.

6 4. Meaningless superlatives Avoid ‘ best ’, ‘ newest ’, ‘ freshest ’ and similar meaningless superlatives. They carry no credibility unless a strong rationale is included that proves it is indeed the best.

7 5. Negative language Note the difference between the negative ‘ A ’ and the positive ‘ B ’. A.Whether or not you ’ ve had success with previous programmes, Weightdrop makes sure that you won ’ t be disappointed. B. Weightdrop guarantees satisfaction with its weight loss programme.

8 6. Chunky, awkward language Always get someone else to read your copy out loud. Whenever they trip up, lose the sense of the sentence or run out of breath, edit/re-write.

9 7. Over use of emphasis Avoid underlining and italics. To give something emphasis move it to the beginning of the sentence or paragraph.

10 8. Vague phrases Everything you say should have a specific meaning and add something to the message. If the logical follow up to one of your sentences is ‘ why ’ then rewrite what you ’ ve said. For example:

11 8. Vague phrases (cont) Note the difference between the vague ‘ A ’ (which begs the question ‘ why ’ ) and the specific ‘ B ’ : A. Hipton Hotels are a wonderful place to spend a weekend. B.Hipton Hotels offer a quiet, relaxed refuge from city pressures.

12 9. Absence of credibility If you state an important fact, always substantiate it.

13 10. Wordiness When you ’ ve finished writing, keep editing it down until every word is fundamental to your message.

14 Spelling a word as it ’ s commonly pronounced Don ’ t write would of, should of or could of, when you actually mean would have, should have and could have. Don ’ t write suppose to or use to. When talking the ‘ d ’ is often silent. The correct spelling is supposed to and used to. As in the sentences: We used to do that. We were supposed to do it this way.

15 And finally … There are numerous words that sound similar and are commonly mixed up when writing. For a great resource on this go to:

16 “ That which is written without effort is generally read without interest. ” Dr Johnson


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