Prefer The Active Voice

Prefer the active voice unless there’s a good reason for using the passive. The active tends to make the writing tighter, more personal, and introduces action earlier in sentences. The passive tends to do the reverse yet it is still valuable in, for example, defusing hostility, focusing attention on the receiver of the action, and evading responsibility.

(1) Converting passives to actives – Though using the active in the example will produce only small gains in clarity and economy, a general preference for active over passive will significantly improve the readability of most documents.


  1. A recommendation was made by inspectors that consideration be given by the company to the fitting of an interlock trip between the ventilation systems to prevent cell pressurization.

  2. Inspectors recommended that the company consider fitting an interlock trip between the ventilation systems to prevent cell pressurization.

(2) Using ‘I’ or ‘we’ in formal reports – The myth that ‘I’ and ‘we’ should be avoided in formal reports has crippled many writers, causing them to adopt clumsy and confusing constructions.


It is considered that fluoridation of drinking water is beneficial to health.

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Keep Sentences Short.
Use words your readers are likely to understand.
Use only as many words as you really need.
Prefer the active voice.
Use the clearest, liveliest verb to express your thoughts.
Use Vertical Lists to make complex materil understandable.
Keep Electronic Text Communication simple.
Put your points positively when you can.
Reduce cross-references to the minimum.
Try to avoid sexist usage.
Avoidable English Errors are so many.
Avoid fusty first sentences and formula finishes.
Put accurate punctuation at the heart of your writing.
Avoid being enslaved by seven writing myths.
Plan Before You Write.
Organize your material in a simple way.
Consider different ways of setting out your information.
Devote special effort to producing lucid instructions.
Use clear layout to present your plain words.

Plain English Index

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