Bad writing – an eighth type

SimonCommunications, General

Matthew Stibbe at the Bad Language blog has a great post about seven types of bad writing that many of will see every day.

As I read through the bad habits Matthew identifies I could think of examples I’ve seen in my professional life of each one. Indeed early in my career I can think of a few that I was responsible for.

At university you’re taught to write (or at least encouraged to write) in a certain way. Moving into marketing, and then subsequently public relations I had to learn to write in a completely different way – using words sparingly and carefully, and constructing concise sentences to communicate ideas and arguments.

I’d add an eighth type of bad writing to Matthew’s seven:

UOA (use of acronyms)

Every organisation has shorthand codes for many phrases used regularly. It’s bad enough when these are used internally to an audience who generally understand them – how many times have you had to explain to a new recruit what his or her new colleagues are actually saying?

But the real problem is when these acronyms stray into external use. It’s all too easy for them to slip through to an audience for whom they are completely meaningless. It’s a surefire way to limit the effectiveness of your communications activity.