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Writing Without Bullshit: Boost Your Career by Saying What You Mean

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From the Publisher

The Top 10 Ways That Clear Writing Can Boost Your Career

By Josh Bernoff, author of Writing Without Bullshit.

You may not think you’re a business writer, but you are. You write emails. Perhaps you write web pages or reports or news releases. And whatever you write, you’re probably doing it wrong. What you learned in school is the exact opposite of what you need to succeed in a world where everyone reads on a screen.

People today spend about 36 seconds on the average news article. A typical businessperson spends 46 hours per week reading and writing. They’re busy, and their lives are cluttered. You need to write in a way that punches through the noise. You need to write without bullshit.

Here are my top ten tips for writing that succeeds at work:

1. Move beyond fear. When you’re afraid, you write like you’re afraid. Stop hedging and say what you mean. You’ll get credit for directness.

2. Write shorter. Delete the warmup sentences. Organize carefully. Delete repetitive content. If you keep your emails under 250 words, people will be more likely to read them.

3. Front-load your writing. Make your titles and subject lines descriptive. Tell the story in the first two sentences. You haven’t got long to capture people’s attention.

4. Purge passive voice. Passive sentences frustrate people. Don’t tell us “the new system is estimated to cost $150,000.” Tell us who’s responsible: “The IT department estimates that the new system will cost $150,000.”

5. Replace jargon. Big words are more likely to confuse readers than impress them. Don’t tell us that you’ve “become part of the vendor ecosystem” when you really mean “our product is now compatible with other companies’ software.”

6. Eliminate weasel words. Weasel words are vague, meaningless intensifiers. When you tell us you’re “incredibly excited about the new hire’s massive performance improvement and deep knowledge of the subject,” we sense that you’re bullshitting us. Replace the intensifiers and qualifiers with facts and statistics.

7. Reveal structure. Paragraphs suck for online readers, especially when stacked on one another like cinder blocks. Use headings, bullets, lists, tables, graphics, and links to make writing easier to scan and parse.

8. Structure your process. If you’re writing something long, spend the first half of your time on research and planning. Then, when it’s time to write, you’ll have everything at your fingertips.

9. Write a fat outline. Regular outlines are worthless for planning. Pretend you’re writing a “treatment” for Hollywood: Include details, quotes, and ideas in your outline. Fat outlines force you to plan more thoroughly, and they’re great for communicating your plan to others.

10. Manage reviews with discipline. Reviewers will ruin your best writing if you let them. Give each reviewer a specific task, like verifying technical details or the correctness of language. Set deadlines so the reviews come back together. Then, don’t just do what they say; use your creativity to solve the problems they’ve found without losing the soul of what you wrote.

Whether you’re writing web copy or research reports, make an impact. Don’t write to fit in. Write to stand out. Write without bullshit.

Publisher ‏ : ‎ Harper Business (Sept. 13 2016)
Language ‏ : ‎ English
File size ‏ : ‎ 4901 KB
Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Enabled
Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
Sticky notes ‏ : ‎ On Kindle Scribe
Print length ‏ : ‎ 302 pages

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