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Writing with clarity is a worthwhile goal

January 25, 2018 GMT

I don’t know Neil Patel, but I like what he has to say.

I came across one of his online columns recently on the topic of writing with clarity. That’s an important goal, whether you work for a news organization like the Daily News or are a student writing a term paper.

Clarity means making your content easy to understand. Mr. Patel came up with a list of ways to improve clarity in writing that I thought were worth sharing with Daily News readers. Here goes:

1. Know what you want to say.

Clarity goes beyond a few writing tweaks. It’s a whole new way of thinking. And it forces you to think about what you’re writing before you start spilling words onto the page. Because the clearest content is content with intention.

2. Know who you’re talking to.

Knowing your audience is an important feature of good writing. The better you know your audience, the more clearly you can communicate to them. When you write, think to yourself, “How can I help the user understand this better?”

People want to understand. They want to know what you’re trying to say. The clearer you are, the easier it is for them.

3. Define unfamiliar words.

One simple technique to make your writing clear is to explain your terms. If you’re going to write an article that focuses on a particular subject or concept, then be sure to explain that subject or concept. That way, readers know exactly what you’re talking about.

4. Create a sentence outline.

What is a sentence outline? A sentence outline is an outline of your article using complete sentences. When your outline consists of phrases or single words, it’s not clear or helpful. Writing full sentences forces you to think through what you’re saying. Plus, full sentences help the user understand what each point is about.

5) Write one-sentence paragraphs.

Why? Because it makes content scannable. Most users don’t read every word. Instead, they skip entire words, sentences, and even sections. Single-sentence paragraphs cause the eye to stop ... read ... and understand. It’s a simple technique, and it increases clarity.

6. Make your sentences short.

Short sentences are easier to understand. If you try to pack a lot of words into a sentence, you lose clarity. Many adverbs and adjectives are nothing but filler words. They just clutter your writing. The result? Your content loses meaning and clarity.

7. Don’t use long words.

Long words impact clarity. Why would you use such words? To impress people? To flaunt your knowledge? To most ordinary people, these words mean nothing. Drop big words from your writing, and your clarity skyrockets.

8. Leverage writing tools.

There’s an online app that is a good example of this point. It’s called Hemingway Editor. It’s designed to make your writing clear. The Hemingway Editor cuts the dead weight from your writing by highlighting wordy sentences in yellow and more egregious ones in red. The desktop version costs $9.99, but you might find it worth the cost.

Clarity is a lost art in today’s content-saturated world. If you can write more clearly than most people, then your writing will stand out.