Hone your words with these 10 ways to tighten your writing #writinglegally

Posted on 08-19-2015 by
Tags: writinglegally , legal writing , Upgrading Your Skills , #writinglegally

There is always room for improvement. For those of you who are looking to improve your writing, Financial Brand is here to help. Here are 10 tips to help:

1. Kill the passive voice

Use a more active voice to avoid using more words than necessary. It will result in your writing coming off as more clean and crisp.

Original: The game was won by the Seattle Seahawks.

Better: The Seattle Seahawks won the game.


2. Scratch “that”

Avoid using “that” in your writing. In most cases, the use is unnecessary and just adds a word to the sentence.

Original: I decided that journalism was a good career for me.

Better: I decided journalism was a good career for me.


3. Put your last paragraph first

We tend to end our papers with more of a “punch” than our intro paragraph. If you want to hold the reader’s attention, try moving your closing paragraph to the front and make it your first.


4. Dump the extraneous

In a business setting it is always better to dump all the “fluff” and get straight to the point of the message. Business people don’t have all the time in the world to read stuff so save them the time and dump all the extra stuff.

Original: As you may have heard, we’ve had some issues keeping our inventory of printer paper stocked. I was just in the supply closet today and noticed that we are down to the last two reams of paper. I know you are just filling in for our receptionist Kathy while she is on vacation, but I was wondering if you would please order 20 more reams of printer paper for us.

Better: Would you please order 20 reams of printer paper before Kathy gets back and put them in the supply closet?


5. Keep it short

Fewer everything- words, sentences and paragraphs. The shorter the better.


6. Assume readers know you are the speaker

Eliminate first-person pronouns like I, me, mine and my. Doing this will make your writing feel more objective and less about one person’s opinion.

Original: In my personal opinion, this is definitely the right way to go.

Better: This is definitely the right way to go.


7. Depersonalize your writing

Eliminate all personal pronouns as they may create confrontation. You should only use them if you are telling a personal story or offering advice to the reader.

Original: I would like you to ask your team to do whatever it takes so that you can submit my project to me early Friday morning.

Better: Please do whatever it takes to complete this project early Friday morning.


8.  Kill commas

If you want to keep your writing clean, reduce the number of phrases separated by commas.


Original: I hope you will be able to attend, and if you need more information, please call or email me, and I will be glad to help.

Better: I hope you will be able to attend. If you need more information, please call or email me. I will be glad to help.



9. Reduce prepositional phrases

Don’t be overly-dependent on prepositional phrases.


Original: Their attempt to provide a justification for the expense was unsuccessful.

Better: Their attempt to justify the expense was unsuccessful.


10.   Use stronger verbs

Find stronger verbs as they will improve your writing by making it less dry.

Original: Why Google, Apple and Facebook Should Concern Banks

Better: Why Google, Apple and Facebook Will Terrify Banks

If you found the above tip to be helpful, you can track all of our writing content via LexTalk. Check out other LexTalk posts >>


Think your legal writing’s good? Imagine it being better. Your success depends on your writing. Writing tips to help you sharpen your legal communications. For a no-obligation free trial of Lexis® for Microsoft Office, please visit www.lexisnexis.com/microsoftoffice_lextalk


Posted on : 20 Aug 2015 7:48 AM

Great post Amanda. This not only helps to shorten the sentences but also keep the crisp and to the point.

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