The 5 Cs of Style Adapted from Pocket Keys for Writers by Ann Raimes The First C : Cut Most writing can be improved and even cut to half its original length if you focus on stating your essential ideas and expressing them succinctly. Examine your writing for any unnecessary material, whether ideas, sentences, phrases, or individual words. Cut Wordiness Example 1: The Lilly Library contains many rare books. The books in the library are carefully preserved. The library also houses a manuscript collection. Example 2: California residents have voted to abolish bilingual education. The main reason for their voting to abolish bilingual education was that many children were being placed indiscriminately into programs there too long. Cut Formulaic Phrases At the present time At this point in time In this day and age Nowadays In today’s society Prior to Because of the fact that Due to the fact that Concerning the matter of Are of the opinion that Have the ability to In spite of the fact that Cut References to your Intentions Generally, your readers want to read about your topic and are not interested in references to your thinking process. Example: In this report, I intend to prove that . . . In the next few paragraphs, I hope to show . . . In conclusion, I have demonstrated that . . . The Second C: Check for Action Write vigorous sentences with vivid, expressive verbs rather than bland forms of be or verbs in the passive voice. Ask who’s doing what. Remember the subject, verb, object formula. Use caution in beginning a sentence with there or it. Rewriting a sentence that begins with there or it often makes the sentence leaner and more direct. Revise by using a word that shows action and a subject that “does” the action. Avoid unnecessary passive voice constructions. The Third C: Connect Coherent paragraphs are ones in which information that has been mentioned before is connected to new information in a smooth flow, not in a series of grasshopperlike jumps. Apply the principle of consistent subjects. From one sentence to the next, avoid jarring shifts of subjects. Example: Memoirs are becoming increasingly popular. Readers all over the continent are finding them appealing. How would you rewrite the second sentence? Connect with transitional words and phrases. Adding an idea: also, in addition, further, furthermore, moreover Contrasting: however, nevertheless, nonetheless, on the other in contrast, still, on the contrary, rather, conversely hand, Providing an alternative: Instead, alternatively, otherwise Showing similarity: similarly, likewise Showing order of time or order of ideas: first, second, third (and so on), then, next, later, subsequently, meanwhile, previously, finally Showing results: as a result, consequently, therefore, thus, hence, accordingly, for this reason Affirming: of course, in fact, certainly, obviously, to be sure, undoubtedly, indeed Giving examples: for instance, for example, e.g. Explaining: in other words, that is, i.e. Adding an aside: incidentally, by the way, besides Summarizing: in short, generally, above all Connect paragraphs. A new paragraph signals a shift to a new topic, but not necessarily to one that is completely different. 1. Read your draft aloud. As you finish a paragraph, note what point you made in the paragraph. Then at the end, check your flow and logic. 2. Refer to the main idea of the previous paragraph as you begin the next to see if a transition would help the flow. The Fourth C: Commit Readers usually expect writers to analyze and question their sources. Commit to critical thinking. Critical thinking means examining and analyzing information with an open mind. Observe and remember details. Look for assumptions, biases and generalizations. Try to understand the reasoning behind viewpoints that you disagree with. Commit to a point of view Use language that shows commitment. Words like maybe, perhaps, might, etc. all make you sound indecisive. Aim for language that reflects accountability and commitment: as a result, need, think, should, demand, must, etc. The Fifth C: Choose Vivid, Appropriate, and Inclusive Words Word choice, or diction, contributes to the effect your writing has on a reader. Do not give your reader puzzles to solve. Choose vivid, specific words. Avoid clichés, trite expressions, general words such as factor, manner, thing, a lot, etc. Avoid slang, regionalisms, and jargon. Your tone and diction should be consistently formal rather than colloquial.