Aunt Angela on written communications: 1


Use the fewest words possible to convey your message

People are busy. They want to find the underlying information quickly. If they don’t, they are likely to give  up and move on.

The sentence below was used by someone who wished to tell her clients that under certain circumstances they could get their confirmation deposits back. She wrote:

A refund of your confirmation deposit will be made to you.

Total: 11 words. The same information could be better conveyed by six words:

Your confirmation deposit will be refunded.


Use the active voice

Bureaucracies often use the passive voice. It’s unfriendly. It sounds as though something will happen without human intervention and that no individual or group is willing to take responsibility.

We can continue to improve the original sentence by changing it to:

We will refund your confirmation deposit.


3 thoughts on “Aunt Angela on written communications: 1

  1. Dear Aunt Finola: I bow to your superior dewording skills: ever so slightly abrupt, perhaps, but in this world of the short attention span, entirely acceptable!

  2. I was going to further suggest “deposit refundable” or perhaps “refundable deposit.” However, if you object to abruptness, then you probably have an aversion to noun phrases masquerading as sentences. My, this dewording etiquette is complicated.

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