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Rules on Clear and

Effective Writing

RULE NO. 1: THINK FIRST,


THEN WRITE
You must figure out just what
you want to say.
why you are writing in the first
place.
Know who your readers
Think for the human interest
Think for logical arrangements

According to time
Start with what happened first, what
happened next, and so on.
Arrange the material according to
importance
The pattern you can use most often is the
who-what-where-when-why order of a
news story.

RULE NO. 2: GET TO THE


POINT
Get the reader into the midst
of things.
Start with something that
matters, such as your main
idea.
Or tell the reader something
that will make him sit and
take notice.

RULE NO. 3: USE FAMILIAR


WORDS
Readers are not buying
newspapers for the words
used, but for the content

Use words that has three or


more syllables, under 10
percent.

Complex Common
category class contribute give
facilitate help inaugurate start
incarcerate jail indisposed ill
inundate flood majority most
monumental big prevaricate lie
proceed goprocure get
purchase buy reside live
request ask
summon call
terminate end utilize use
witness see

drop unnecessary words from phrases or


sentences

RULE NO. 4:
OMIT VERBAL
DEADWOOD

affixed his signature signed


at the present time now
held a conference met
in the immediate vicinity near
for the reason that because
tendered his resignation resigned
told his listeners said
united in holy matrimony married
used for fuel purposes fueled
was able to make his escape - escaped

advanced prediction
a period of two weeks
definitely decided
fatal killing
final conclusion
free gift
new recruits
other alternative
past history

RULE NO. 5: KEEP YOUR


SENTENCES SHORT

Readers absorb the idea


faster.

Longer sentences
More words
More relationships
More effort

Average
sentence
length in
words:

RULE NO. 6: SHORTEN YOUR


PARAGRAPHS
they are easy on the
eye

Short paragraphs act


as a brake for writers
make for easy
reference

RULE NO. 7: USE SPECIFIC


AND CONCRETE LANGUAGE

Concrete nouns help focus your readers


attention.
Always prefer the specific to the general,
the definite to the vague, and the concrete
to the abstract.
Furthermore, you must watch out for
vague or imprecise words. Crime for
instance is vague. It may range all the way
from jaywalking to murder.

Tragedy (fire, explosion, drowning, cave-in?)


Accident (collision, a fall from a building, slip?)
Organization (Jaycees, Catholic Action, YMCA?)
Ceremony (wedding, mass, award?)
Legal action (suit for damages, criminal case?)
Document (deed of sale, record, certificate,
treaty?)
Monetary Consideration (salary, bribe, reward?)
Community (town, barrio, city?)

Vague: His head was injured by


a blunt instrument.

His skull was fractured with a


hammer.

Vague: Officers removed a gun


from his clothing.

Police took a .32 caliber


automatic from his hip pocket

Vague: A large number


assembled for the meeting.

Five hundred attended the


caucus.

Vague: He spoke in disparaging


terms about the radical element.

He denounced the communists.

RULE NO. 8: PREFER THE


SIMPLE TO THE COMPLEX

RULE NO. 9: BE POSITIVE

subject, verb, and object.

RULE NO. 10: USE THE


ACTIVE VOICE

1 Congressmen demanded today the


firing of all police officials
2 The firing of all police officials was
demanded today by Congressmen
3 The demand for the firing of all
Namarco officials was made by
congressmen

Nouns, especially abstract nouns,


tend to be static.
But verbs imply action, movement.
Verbs make a story sparkle.

Newspaper circulation grew


steadily
vs
The growth of newspaper
circulation has been steady.

It is requested that the


production department be
notified of any change in
deadline.
VS
Please notify the production
department if there is any
change in deadlines.

RULE NO. 11: WRITE AS YOU


TALK

Effective immediately, the practice of


endeavoring by words, gestures, or
otherwise, to beg, invite, or secure
transportation in any motor vehicle not
engaged in passenger travel or hire or
otherwise acting as a commercial
passenger carrier, by officers or enlisted
men or women or both in the naval
service at any point within the
boundaries of this naval command is
forbidden.

Do not ask for free rides!

RULE NO. 12: USE


ADJECTIVES SPARINGLY

The National Waterworks and


Sewerage Authority had a
remarkable record for April it
provided water all day round.

RULE NO. 13:


REVISE AND
SHARPEN

RULE NO. 14:


WRITE TO
EXPRESS, NOT
TO IMPRESS

An exercise that seeks


quantitative answers relating to
a period that is some distance
away in the future must by its
very nature be highly tentative.

What followed was largely


guesswork.

RULE NO. 15: ODDS AND


ENDS

Euphemism is the use of a


supposedly pleasing expression in
the place of the simpler or more
accurate word.

The classic examples comes from Sir


Winston Churchill. He told a
colleague: The Right Honorable
Member is guilty of a terminological
inexactitude.
He meant: You are lying,

A metaphor is the application


of a descriptive term to an
object to which it is not literally
applicable. Mixed metaphors
are a combination of
inconsistent metaphors.

1. Scientists at the Philippine


Atomic Energy Commission
have announced the discovery
of a virgin field pregnant with
possibilities for future research.

2. The strong arm of the law is


marching after the offenders.

3. We congratulate the
chairman on his skill in piloting
the committees ship on the
solid ground of reality.

Carlos Loyzaga took the ball


from Tony Renato and had
dribbled the sphere to three
yards of the goal when