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Communications and Agricultural Education

Communications and Agricultural Education

Kansas State University
1612 Claflin Road
301 Umberger Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506-3402

785-532-5633 fax

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.
a distance of 175 miles175 miles
add upadd
cancel outcancel
circulate aroundcirculate
connect togetherconnect
continue to remainremain
cylindrical in shapecylindrical
during the month of Julyduring July
few in numberfew
finish upfinish
in order toto
in this day and agenow
joined togetherjoined
open upopen
period of timeperiod
prior to the start ofbefore
red in colorred
refer back torefer to
repeat againrepeat
send outsend
small in sizesmall
still remainremain
summer monthssummer
the reason is becausethe reason is
the reason is whythe reason is
try outtry