That good advice first shows up in the introduction, which offers eight precepts for keeping our readers engaged.
Catch the attention of the reader.Then get straight into the article. Do not spend several sentences clearing your throat, setting the scene or sketching in the background.
Read through your writing several times.
Edit it ruthlessly, whether by cutting or polishing or sharpening, on each occasion. . . . Nothing is to be gained by resorting to orotundities and grandiloquence, still less by calling on clichés and vogue expressions. Unadorned, unfancy prose is usually all you need.
Do not be stuffy.
Use the language of everyday speech, not that of spokesmen, lawyers or bureaucrats. . . . Pomposity and long-windedness tend to obscure meaning, or reveal the lack of it: strip them away in favour of plain words.
Do not be hectoring or arrogant.
Those who disagree with you are not necessarily stupid or insane. Nobody needs to be described as silly: let your analysis show that he is.
Do not be too pleased with yourself.
Don’t boast of your own cleverness by telling readers that you correctly predicted something or that you have a scoop. You are more likely to bore or irritate them than to impress them.
Do not be too chatty.
Surprise, surprise is more irritating than informative. So is Ho, ho and, in the middle of a sentence, wait for it, etc.
Do not be too didactic.
If too many sentences begin Compare, Consider, Expect, Imagine, Look at, Note, Prepare for, Remember or Take, readers will think they are reading a textbook (or, indeed, a style book).
Do your best to be lucid.
(“I see but one rule: to be clear,” Stendhal) Simple sentences help. Keep complicated constructions and gimmicks to a minimum. . . . Clear thinking is the key to clear writing.