Get our white paper, "10 Things the Best Law-Firm Website Designs Have in Common"
For the past five years, Lawyerist has published an annual list of the best law firm websites. Now, you can find out what they have in common.Get it Now!
Whether you are writing a brief, a blog post, or an e-mail, clarity is key. If what you write is easy to read and digest, it is more persuasive.
If you want to enhance the clarity of your writing, here are a few tips.
Proofread and edit
Proofreading and editing eliminates unnecessary words and phrases. Make sure that every sentence says something new and does not simply restate a previous point. If you find sentences that turn into paragraphs, break them down into shorter sentences.
Proofreading can also catch sentences that are worded very awkwardly (yes, that was on purpose). Almost every sentence can be rearranged to enhance clarity.
In most cases, proofreading is most effective after letting something sit for a day or two. That way, your mind is fresh and more likely to spot necessary changes.
Eliminate unnecessary phrases and words
Here are five words/phrases to eliminate in briefs and emails. My personal favorite is “really.” For example, adding really in front of an adjective or adverb—“really long time”—is unnecessary. “Long time” is descriptive enough. Try to minimize double descriptors.
If you use an adjective or adverb, make sure it is appropriate and easy to understand. Throwing in words that nobody knows can frustrate your reader, rather than impress them.
Use subheadings to guide your reader
If you send an e-mail with subheadings, you should pick up the phone. For blog posts and briefs, however, subheadings are key.
Subheadings make it easy for the reader to quickly see your main points. For example, you could read the headings of this post and still get some good information without reading anything more. If the reader continues to read what is underneath the heading, they will know where you are trying to go.