As you may know if you visit this blog often, I hate bad, boring, corporate-bland writing. It kills not only proposals and deals, but also brain cells. See various diatribes here (Microsoft), here (worst movie ever), and here (it’s your English teacher’s fault). Perhaps the only place you’ll find worse writing than big corporations and little corporations trying to sound like big corporations is the government. However, the CIA is on the case, with a leaked writing guide, which includes these tips:

  • Keep the language crisp and pungent; prefer the forthright to the pompous and ornate.
  • Do not stray from the subject; omit the extraneous, no matter how brilliant it may seem or even be.
  • Favor the active voice and shun streams of polysyllables and prepositional phrases.
  • Keep sentences and paragraphs short, and vary the structure of both.
  • Be frugal in the use of adjectives and adverbs; let nouns and verbs show their own power.

Does your company have a writing guide? Should it?

And while we’re discussing writing, I’m working on a jargon highlighter for proposals. What are some examples of jargon you’d like to make sure your team does not include in proposals? Leave your (least) favorites in the comments.

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