Accuracy, brevity and clarity in communication | Sunday Observer

Accuracy, brevity and clarity in communication

25 October, 2020


Accuracy is a very important feature of communication. It includes both accurate information and accurate expression. The information should be correct and well-expressed. Overwriting, wrong spellings, grammatically incorrect structures— these are some reasons for misunderstanding. Accuracy of expression requires that there should not be any errors of spellings, punctuation, grammar or usage. Everyone has to be careful about grammar and punctuation. Accuracy always demands precision in writing. Precision is the quality of being exact and accurate. It is an essential feature of writing. An effective sentence requires correctness and appropriateness in writing.


Brevity is the quality of being brief. It is a striking feature of written communication. Brevity means giving maximum information in the minimum number of words possible. It can be achieved by avoiding wordiness and repetition. There is an economy of words. It saves the time of the writer and the reader also. Communication should be accurate, precise, concise, and pointed. It should not be irrelevant, repetitive, and circumlocutive.

Ways to achieve brevity in writing:

1. Replace several vague words with more powerful and specific words.

2. Interrogate every word in a sentence.

3. Combine Sentences.

4. Omit repetitive wording.

5. Eliminate words that explain the obvious or provide excessive detail.

6. Start sentences with the subject.

7. Remove redundancy.

8. Change phrases into single-words and adjectives.

9. Avoid overusing expletives at the beginning of sentences.

10. Avoid circumlocutions in favor of direct expressions


The message should be clear, well-planned and expressed in a logical way. It should not be ambiguous. Clearly written messages avoid misunderstanding and save time. Vague or ambiguous expressions must be avoided. Clarity paves way for readability. For readability clear, simple, familiar, precise, specific words, phrases and expressions should be used. Long sentences, unclear words and clumsy expressions should be avoided. Clarity depends upon five factors.

They are as follows:

1. Always use simple, common and meaningful words. Avoid technical words, jargons and cliches.

2. Use short and simple sentences as long sentences can confuse the reader.

3. Use proper punctuation in writing; it facilitates comprehension.

4. Always give definite and concrete details with facts and figures.

5. Use coherence, that is, the logical sequence in the presentation of ideas.

Clarity means being clear in meaning. It is indispensable for understanding. Clarity includes both clarity of expression as well as clarity of thought. It always uses direct language and specific words and expressions. It implies avoiding indirect or euphemistic expressions, exaggeration, artificial eloquence and unnecessary repetition.Information becomes particular when one uses specific and concrete words and expressions in writing. The use of specific and concrete words brings in particularity, vividness and clarity in presentation. On the other hand, abstract and vague words confuse the reader.

Ways to make writing more clear:

? Use active voice: Sentences in active voice are usually easier to understand than those in passive voice because active-voice constructions indicate clearly the performer of the action expressed in the verb. In addition, changing from passive voice to active often results in a more concise sentence. So, use active voice unless you have good reason to use the passive. For example, the passive is useful when you don’t want to call attention to the doer; when the doer is obvious, unimportant, or unknown; or when passive voice is the conventional style among your readers.

? The committee decided to postpone the vote.

? A decision was reached to postpone the vote.

? Use parallel constructions: When you have a series of words, phrases, or clauses, put them in parallel form (similar grammatical construction) so that the reader can identify the linking relationship more easily and clearly.

? In Florida, where the threat of hurricanes is an annual event, we learned that it is important (1) to become aware of the warning signs. (2) There are precautions to take, and (3) deciding when to take shelter is important. (not parallel)

? In Florida, where the threat of hurricanes is an annual event, we learned that it is important (1) to become aware of the warning signs, (2) to know what precautions to take, and (3) to decide when to seek shelter. (parallel)

? Avoid overusing noun forms of verbs: Use verbs when possible rather than noun forms known as “nominalisations.”

? The implementation of the plan was successful.

? The plan was implemented successfully.

? Be careful about the placement of subordinate clauses: Avoid interrupting the main clause with a subordinate clause if the interruption will cause confusion:

? Industrial spying , because of the growing use of computers to store and process corporate information, is increasing rapidly.

? Industrial spying is increasing rapidly because of the growing use of computers to store and process corporate information.

? Because of the growing use of computers to store and process corporate information, industrial spying is increasing rapidly.

? Link pronouns to nouns clearly: Because pronouns stand in for nouns, be sure your pronouns refer to nouns you have already put in place. Vague pronoun reference often occurs when pronouns are used at the start of a sentence. Example: Alia met Sarah . She wore a green silk dress. Which woman wore the dress?

? Avoid Double-Negatives: Multiple negatives can be difficult for the reader to follow. It’s always better to use an affirmative form that to negate a negative. In the examples below, double-negatives are in italics:

? In order to complete her homework, Kate couldn’t do without the study guide.

? Kate required the study guide to complete her homework.