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Writing Tips by Prompt Proofing: Clarity

Most of the time, when we write about our business, or we are making a request for something of direct concern to us, we know exactly what we are talking about and what we want to say.
    VANCOUVER, BC, March 15, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Most of the time, when we write about our business, or we are making a request for something of direct concern to us, we know exactly what we are talking about and what we want to say. The problem is that the recipient of your writing does not have this knowledge - our readers cannot read our thoughts, only our words.

Clarity, therefore, is paramount. Anything that could be open to misinterpretation will be misinterpreted, at least 50% of the time. Dates and times are a simple, but important, example. 'This Friday', 'tomorrow morning', etc. rely on the reader reading your missive on the same day and possibly in the same time zone - if you have readers in Australia and you are based in New York then 'tomorrow morning' will have a completely different meaning than what was intended. It is always preferable to state time, days and dates, including the time zone if this is likely to be an issue. For example:

I need that package by the end of business today. should become I need that package by 5pm Eastern Time, March 15.

The latter leaves no room for misunderstanding.

However, this is a rather obvious example. On a more subtle level we can create confusion quite easily with misuse or overuse of pronouns. Because we know exactly what we want to say, we do not consider how this may read to someone who doesn't have that knowledge.

Consider the following:

Regarding the buyer, my partner asked if he could extend the deadline.

Who is 'he'? Does my partner want to extend the deadline, or does 'he' refer to the buyer?

Similarly, assuming similar knowledge/thought patterns in your reader can cause confusion:

Please paint the wall next to the closet in the accent colour.

The writer knows exactly what s/he means but the recipient may see two walls 'next to' the closet and may well choose to paint the wrong one.

Lastly, when replying to a letter or email be careful to answer all questions - or at least make it clear which questions you are trying to answer:

Incoming email:

How many vehicles will you need and how many days will you want them for?


Three please.

The response - of course - should be:

Three vehicles for five days please.

Re-read everything you write and assume the reader has no idea at all what you are talking about. Then go back and clarify.

About Prompt Proofing

Prompt Proofing is based in Vancouver, BC, Canada and was officially launched in 2010 by a team of editing and writing professionals who have over 40 years of experience in the education, news media, public relations and recruitment fields. Prompt Proofing prides itself on affordable services delivered with fast turnaround times, without sacrificing quality or accuracy.

Offering content writing, editing and proofreading services, Prompt Proofing takes care of your individual or business content needs. We have customers throughout North and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, the United Kingdom, Asia and Australia.

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Pat Wootton
Prompt Proofing

Vancouver, BC
Voice: 1-888-305-7917
E-Mail: Email Us Here
Website: Visit Our Website

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