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Five Tips to Help You Improve Your Writing


1) Why are you writing and who are you writing for?

Before you start writing, it is important to ask yourself these two questions and adapt your writing style accordingly. This is because the purpose and intended audience of an academic essay is, for example, is very different to that of a blog post. Similarly, the tone and style of a letter of complaint is very different to that of a letter to a friend, and both of these are different to the tone and style of an email or text message.

If you are writing for university coursework or for a publication, make sure you are aware of any style guides you should follow. The whereabouts of your audience may also affect how you choose to write something. If you are writing for an American audience, for example, you may wish to use American English spelling and grammar conventions.

If you keep the answers to these two questions in mind throughout the writing process, it will help avoid wasting time and words on irrelevant tangents.

2) Plan before you begin

Another way to make sure you don’t go off topic in your writing is by beginning with a plan. List the key points you want to make and organise your information into a clear structure. This will help make sure your writing flows well and that your message is communicated clearly.

3) Clarity, Clarity, Clarity!

Don’t forget that while you know a lot about the subject you’re writing about, your reader may not.

As you write your piece, ask yourself why you are including each piece of information and what the information will add to your reader’s understanding of the subject. It is important to make sure your reader is neither left without enough information to understand the point you are trying to make nor overloaded with so much information that your point gets lost.

You can help guide your reader through your writing by making it clear how each point relates to the one before and after it. Think carefully about the order of your sentences and how this affects the way you are communicating information. Depending on your audience and the writing style you have chosen, it may be appropriate to use headings to break down information.

4) Don’t use redundant expressions

If your writing contains redundant expressions, a reader might think that you do not fully understand the meaning of the words you are using or that you are choosing them sloppily. While it might be tempting to use a longer or more unusual word because it might make you seem more knowledgeable about a subject, your writing will have quite the opposite effect if you don’t use the word correctly.

We recommend always looking up a word in the dictionary if you are unsure of what it means and removing it from your writing if it means the same thing as another word you have already used. Don’t forget, it is always better to use fewer words and make your point clearly than it is to use more and make it convolutedly.

You can read more about redundant expressions here.

5) Be Consistent

Once you have chosen an appropriate writing style, make sure you stick to it. As you write you will have to make a series of decisions, for example:

Be intentional as you make these decisions and make sure you are consistent throughout your writing. If you choose to use the Latin plural ‘cacti’ in one instance, don’t later use the English plural ‘cactuses’. Consistency is key!


09 Feb 2018
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