Chapter 5 - Tightening up the text  pp. 43-71

Tightening up the text

By Paul Coombs

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I now want to turn to the ways in which we can use the power of language to persuade our readers of the truth and beauty of our message. I quoted this example earlier:

At present Management Information data is stored in a wide variety of different databases and the maintenance processes to collect and maintain the data are duplicated and inefficient. Several databases use outdated technology and consequently the applications to derive the data are also outdated. The aim of the new MIS Strategy is to unify together all these outdated databases into one central database. This will use up-to-date RDBMS technology which is maintained using a single data maintenance application.

What is wrong with this? The facts are all there; there's nothing wrong with the grammar, spelling or punctuation; and I'm sure we all understand what is being proposed. But it's so dull that before you get halfway through your eyes seem to have wandered off in search of something more interesting. It could be that the solution being presented is so novel and revolutionary that it demolishes any competing approaches, but that is not how it comes across.

Look at the example again. The writer has devised a strategy that needs to be explained and ‘sold’ to the reader. But the words chosen are repetitive, neutral and uninspiring.