Journalistic Writer: Style of Writing – Increase effectiveness and readability

Important things to Convey a Good Message (Do’s of Style)

  1. Omit needless words
  2. Be economical with adjectives, but excessive with verbs
  3. Beware of your special words
  4. Do not exaggerate or overstate
  5. Remember your signposts



COLLOQUIALISM: This can best be described as “writing in the way that one would speak.”

  1. Don’t use “filler” words.

The following are overused fillers in writing. Try not to use them more often unless it is critically required.

  • Basically
  • Even
  • Just
  • Well


  1. Avoid contractions.

Replace can’t with cannot, doesn’t with does not, and so on.

  1. Limit your use of subjective pronouns.

Use third person (He, She , It etc) pronouns. Don’t use first or second person pronouns like “I”, “Me”, “You” and “We”


  1. Avoid splitting infinitives.

For example, He tried to not sneeze (not to sneeze) in the library.


  1. Avoid ending your sentences with a preposition.

Before: “What is the bag filled with?”

After: “What is inside the bag?


  1. Avoid language like stage directions.


Do not commence by telling the reader what you are doing, or begin an essay by telling the reader what the paper will discuss.

“I am writing to you to ask you to…”

“This paper is going to talk about how…”


  1. Avoid vague words.


Vague words can be described as words that are open to interpretation or that don’t express your ideas as well as more precise words would.


There are a few ways to solve the equation.

She made enough food.





a lot




could of         

would of        

should of       

Get it. 



is not

all right


could have

would have

should have



Do you got…

gonna, wanna

kinda, kind of

It is like he…



real / really    

sorta, sort of


Do you have…

going to, want to

type of

It is, as if, he never existed.


very hot

similar to


CIRCUMLOCUTION: The use of many words where a few would do. Circumlocution is a figure of speech where the meaning of a word or phrase is indirectly expressed through several or many words. Its antonym is brevity and conciseness.


  1. Before: The minister will cause inquiries to be instituted with a view to ascertaining the views of the general public upon the subject of national dietary standards.

            After: The Minister will find out what people think about the national diet.


  1. Before: All things considered, it seems like the new tax cut imposed by the administration will without a doubt make the wealthy wealthier and the poor poorer. When the administration’s new tax cut is passed, the children living in poverty will be affected the worst.

After: The new tax cut imposed by the administration will undoubtedly make the wealthy wealthier and the poor poorer. Consequently, children living in poverty will be severely affected.


  1. Before: High-quality learning environments are a necessary precondition for facilitation and enhancement of the ongoing learning process.

            After: Children need good schools if they are to learn properly.



Ambiguity is of two types

  1. syntactical
  2. semantically


Ambiguity in writing might be intentional or unintentional.


Intentional ambiguity:

Intentional ambiguity may be used to mislead a reader or might be necessary due to the context or subject matter.

Unintentional ambiguity

Unintentional ambiguity should always be avoided and it can be avoided with care and practice.

Three types of ambiguity exist.  Understanding the differences between these types will help you identify ambiguity in what others write and to avoid including unintentional ambiguity in your own writing.


In the following examples, identify the ambiguity and decide how the claims can be re-written to get rid of the ambiguity.



Avoid CLICHÉ: Clichés are phrases that have been exhausted to the point where they have completely lost originality.




Avoid GRANDILOQUENCE: Pompous/colorful language.


Avoid EXCRESCENCE: bankrupt and awkward words)


 Don’t use SLANG:





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