Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Notes on Writing Style from George Orwell

Most people know George Orwell because they had to read his short novels 1984 and Animal Farm in high school. Orwell was an expert essayist as well, a master of the English language who had quite a bit to say about bad writing.

In his essay “Politics and the English Language,” he attacks pretentious, ambiguous writing by citing astounding examples of academic gobbledygook, political waffling, and technical jargon. He concludes with six tips:

• Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
• Never use a long word where a short one will do.
• If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
• Never use the passive voice where you can use the active.
• Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
• Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

You can read the article by clicking here:

Thanks, Neil Friedland, Coordinator of Writing Services for the School of Visual Arts and colleague, for recommending the article.

To purchase your copy of The Art of On-the-Job Writing by Philip Vassallo, click here:

To purchase your copy of The Art of E-Mail Writing by Philip Vassallo, click here: