Write Clearly

Good writing is clear and consistent. It should not be complicated or include lots of complex words. Most of our publications, brochures, and websites are intended for the public and should be understandable to a lay reader.

Here are a few more guidelines:
• Avoid jargon. If you must use special terms, define or explain them at first reference. Apply the same rule to acronyms. Spell out the name or term before using the acronym alone: Division of Water Resources (DWR).
• Use the active voice (Joe hit the ball) rather than passive voice (the ball was hit by Joe).
• Revise and rewrite. Most of the time, the second draft will be shorter and clearer.
• Be sure tables or charts clearly convey information and match accompanying text.

Not all repetition is bad. Sometimes repeating a word or phrase adds emphasis, but avoid using two words when one will do. Some examples (with best choice bold):

adequate enough (adequate)
as a general rule (as a rule)
basic fundamentals (fundamentals)
close proximity (proximity or close)
consensus of opinion (consensus)
current status (status)
different varieties (varieties)
disappear from sight (disappear)
early beginnings (beginnings)
empty space (empty or vacant)
end result (result)
exactly alike (alike or identical)
final completion (completion or final)
for the sum of (for or sum)
free gift (free or gift)
honest truth (truth)
joint partnership (partnership)
new breakthrough (breakthrough)
on pages 20 to 30 inclusive (pages 20 through 30)
precisely correct (correct)
regular weekly meetings (regular meetings or weekly meetings)
separate entities (separate)
surrounded on all sides (surrounded)
true facts (facts)
visible to the eye (visible)
From Media Mix, First Quarter 2002, at:

Streamline Your Writing

Whether you are writing for a scientific journal or your website, be concise. Convey meaning without extra words.
Wordy Preferred
a distance of 175 miles 175 miles
add up add
cancel out cancel
circulate around circulate
connect together connect
continue to remain remain
cylindrical in shape cylindrical
during the month of July during July
few in number few
finish up finish
in order to to
in this day and age now
joined together joined
open up open
period of time period
prior to the start of before
red in color red
refer back to refer to
repeat again repeat
send out send
small in size small
still remain remain
summer months summer
the reason is because the reason is
the reason is why the reason is
try out try