Why does good writing matter?

Good writing is important to you as a writer, and to your audience.

Good writing allows you to achieve the aims of your writing, whether engaging and informing your audience, influencing their opinions, or helping them to understand what they need to do.

Good writing helps your audience to understand and act on a text.

The reader should need to read a text only once to get the meaning. Good writing reduces the amount of work your readers need to do. It improves their understanding and engagement with the text.

What makes an effective document?

Think of a piece of writing that you have read lately. Was it understandable, or did the language get in the way of meaning? Did you know exactly what the author meant after 1 read, or did you have to read through several times or, worse still, guess? Did the ideas flow or did they leap around illogically? Did you go away inspired and empowered to take action, or confused and frustrated?

A well-written and effective document is:

  • readable and clear (and thus more likely to be read!)
  • appropriately targeted for its purpose and audience
  • credible and accurate
  • logical, well structured and concise
  • visually appealing.
Good writing is invisible

One of the best comments we received from a client on an editing project for a technical manual was ‘Now I can read it!’

When we talked about what she meant by this, she said that the previous draft had felt like hard work – she couldn’t navigate or tell where she was in the content, and she kept having to re-read sentences and paragraphs to discern their meaning.

Rewriting had made it easy to find what she needed. Most importantly, it allowed her to grasp the information with no ‘work’ on her part. She didn’t have to think about reading; she just read and understood.

That is the goal of good writing. It is not about following esoteric grammatical rules, but about making sure the information leaps straight from the page – whether printed or web – to the mind. Grammar and spelling, along with plain-English writing, copyediting and proofreading, are some of the tools you can use to achieve this goal.

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Australian manual of scientific style Start communicating effectively