Good Writing is Clear. Your writing is clear if your intended readers can grasp your meaning when they read carefully. The phrase intended readers is a major qualification, of course. It is important for you to identify those readers and consider whether you are using specialized terms that they won’t understand or assuming too much about their background knowledge. If you are, you’ll need to either add explanations or bring your writing down to a more general level. In Chapter 4 on analyzing the writing situation, we’ll suggest ways to identify your readers and reach them in your writing.
Professional writers whose livelihood depends on being able to write clearly on a broad range of topics for a variety of readers are experts at analyzing their audiences. They also employ many different strategies to get their meaning across. Those strategies, which can range from telling stories to arranging information in list, aren’t difficult to master and we’ll be giving you many of them in Chapter 7 on holding your reader and Chapter 6 on writing clearly.
In recent years writers have acquired new tools for making their writing clearer and more accessible – such tools as different type faces and sizes, borders and boxes graphs, charts and color highlighting. These tools come from the field of document design and from the new capabilities the computer offers. With such tools you can make your writing look good, more appealing to potential readers. The added features may be especially useful in writing that will be read on-screen. We’ll tell you more about them in Chapter 11 on document design.