Sheila O'Kelly - makes every word count by making it clear

How to avoid the top 10 mistakes

Think of the audience

Write with your audience in mind. Jargon can be useful if you are sure your readers can understand it. Perhaps you are writing for scientists who find scientific jargon easy to understand; or teenagers who are familiar with instant messaging.

Use active language

Passive: The remuneration will be sent to you in due course.
Active: I will send you the cheque on Monday.

Use 1.5 line spacing between lines of text

Single-line spacing is difficult to read and makes the text seem dense and uninviting.

Use a large enough font

Aim to use a 12-point font.

Use concrete, clear language

People are not impressed by phrases like:
The agreement will be rendered inoperative if it does not serve a purpose that is deserving of serious consideration.

Use well designed forms

Unless a form is very clear, people will not be able to fill it in correctly.

Explain acronyms

Always spell out acronyms like Freedom of Information (FoI) the first time you use them.

Use crisp sentences

Long sentences are difficult to absorb. If you are writing about a complex topic, it can be useful to use bullet points.

Make the text on diagrams big enough to read

It is a waste of time and money to create a complicated diagram where the text is too small to read.

Explain jargon

If you need to use jargon for an audience that will not understand it, explain what it means the first time you use it.