Clear Writing, Clear Thinking

An almost humorous article today in the Times about John Roberts’ obsession about grammar and precise writing. I can sympathize with his attention to the proper use of “affect” versus “effect.” Although I occasionally strive for a different style – in emails, say, when conveying tone is particularly challenging – for the most part I try to write with as much clarity as possible in as few words as possible. I once took a personality test online where it asked whether I would notice a grammar error from my (theoretical) girlfriend in the midst of a nasty breakup. Of course I would!

As Ryan McIntyre told me in an email: “If you can write clearly, you can think clearly. I’m not suggesting that those who write poorly are necessarily any less intelligent than those who write well, but expressing oneself clearly and accurately though the written word does betray a certain amount of care and deliberation, which are positive traits in almost any situation.”

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