Writing: Keeping essays simple and clear

Writing: keeping it simple and clear
Intermediate to advanced level (B1-C2)

Have you ever read a piece of writing and then asked yourself ‘What did that mean?’? I certainly have. I’m not talking about short emails from friends but rather longer, more complicated essays or reports.

Writing is about communication so it is extremely important to think about who is going to read your essays. Sometimes the question is about the words or phrases you use. If your readers are experts in a particular field, you should be able to use more technical or specialist vocabulary. However, if your readers include people who don’t know much about your subject area, you will need to use relatively simple language. Think about how confusing it can be to read a letter from a lawyer!

Another way to keep your written communication effective is to put new information towards the end of your sentences. Here’s an example of a part of an essay on democracy:

Democracy in the 21st Century

Today we have the chance to be democratic on a large scale. Most of the population has access to the Internet and this technology could be used for voting on important single issues such as taxation, education or going to war. Of course, some issues are complicated but these could be debated for months before any vote. Voting on individual policies rather than a party manifesto would make taking part in politics much more real.

In this example, each sentence is connected to the new information in the sentence before it. This allows the writing to flow and the reader to follow your ideas more easily.

Try using this technique when you have to write essays or pieces of academic writing and see if it helps you communicate your ideas to the reader.