Orwell's rules of writing - updated
Seth Godin, one of the world’s best-known marketers, recently commented on the need for clear business writing.
“The reason business writing is horrible is that people are afraid. Afraid to say what they mean, because they might be criticized for it. Afraid to be misunderstood, to be accused of saying what they didn’t mean, because they might be criticized for it.”
In his blog post he provides an updated version of George Orwell’s rules of writing, shortening the rules so that ‘never use a long word where a short one will do’ becomes “avoid long words.”
Here at Human we’re great fans of advice like this that can help to make business writing clearer and simpler. In particular, we agree with Orwell’s original advice to ‘never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.’
So the next time you’re putting pen to paper (or fingers to your keyboard), have a look at Orwell’s/ Godin’s rules and see if they can help simplify your writing.
Or just remember this advice from Godin: “If the goal is to communicate, then say what you mean.”