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CMN279 Notes Class 2

Business Style
Use plain, precise and familiar language to get to the point,
prevent misunderstanding, and write with impact
Identify strategies for concise messaging
Develop a conversational and confident tone and adjust it to suit
a range of writing purposes, professional situations and

Plain Style
Use common words except for necessary technical terms
o Write to express, not impress
Use reasonable lengths
o (8 words = 100% comprehension; 15 words = 90%
Use active voice verbs
o The subject performs the action: bob selected the new
computers v. the new computers were selected by Bob)
Use personal pronouns
o I, you, we (use in moderation, except in formal reports)
Use unambiguous language
o It will never be ambiguous for the writer, but always to the
Place the subject as close as possible to the verb

How To Be Concise
o How long it takes to read
o How the choice of words affects coherence and readability
Use fewer words whenever fewer will do
Eliminate long lead-ins
o Start directly unless extreme politeness is required, delete
any opening phrases ending in that or because
E.g. do not say, I am writing this letter because
Or: As the director of operations, I am writing
to inform you that
Revise noun conversion
o Verbs converted into nouns (often by adding tion or ment
endings) lose their power.
o Focus shifts to the converted noun instead of the action
Cut wordy phrases
o Just one word will often do
E.g. At a rapid rate rapidly
Due to the fact that because
Eliminate redundancies
CMN279 Notes Class 2

o Why say it twice?

E.g. basic essentials all essential are basic .:
eliminate basic

Use strong, precise, accurate verbs

o All forms of to be (am, are, is, was, were, will) generally are
Revise prepositional phrases
o Some phrases (beginning with In, to, at, of after, with,
between) can make sentences sound awkward and
o Often can be replaced by a single-word modifier
o Needless prepositions create wordiness

Avoid There is, there are and It sentence openers

o These filler openers force readers to wait for the subject
the entire sentence depends on.
o Instead begin with the subject followed closely by verb
and object.
Shorten multiple that/which/who clauses
o In most cases, you can drop the relative pronoun as well as
the verb that immediately follows it
Make negative positive
o A positive expression is easier to understand than a
negative one. Its also more persuasive
o Some negative are perfectly correct in expressing

Adjusting the Tone

Tone refers to the mood of a message implied attitude of the
author to the reader as reflected by word of choice
Levels of formality depend mostly on word choice, sentence
length, and sentence structure
Personal style puts you and/or your readers into your sentences
through the free use of first and second-person pronouns (I,
me, we, us, you)

How Sentences Work

o Group of words containing either a subject or a verb (not
both), which cannot stand on its own as a complete
CMN279 Notes Class 2

o Group of related words containing a subject and a

complete verb
Types of sentences:
o Simple one independent clause
Straight-forward and emphatic
Without connecting words, may not fully show
relationships among ideas
String of simple sentences can be flat, boring and
o Compound two independent clauses
Join related sentences with coordinate conjunctions
(for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so)
Stress the equivalence or equal value of the ideas
Over-Coordinated sentences skew logic and lack
o Complex one dependent and on independent clause
Best at showing the relative importance of ideas and
encompassing details
o Compound-Complex one dependent and two
independent clauses
Best at showing the relative importance of ideas and
encompassing details
For maximum impact, put important facts first or last
Use short, simple sentences to spotlight key ideas
Use tags and labels to flag important ideas
o Simple word-markers: e.g. Most importantly
Present important ideas in list form
Use precise and specific words to identify the main point

De-emphasizing Bad News

Use complex sentences
o Put the bad news in the opening subordinate clause
De-emphasize unfavourable facts by embedding them in the
middle of a sentence

Creating Effective Paragraphs

Paragraphs break up a page visually to make it more readable
Can vary in length from a single sentence
No ideal paragraph length, though short paragraphs are easier to
read and retain
Paragraphs with fewer than eight lines look inviting and readable