Outdated Writing Rules
LinkedIn Learning is an online educational platform offering business, creative, and technology courses. While these courses generally focus on specific topics, some of them are part of broader learning paths.
Since I decided to expand beyond medical translation by becoming a medical writer, I recently completed a LinkedIn Learning Path called Develop Your Writing Skills. This path comprises the following courses:
Writing with Impact
Writing with Flair: How to Become an Exceptional Writer
Writing in Plain Language
Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing
Tips for Better Business Writing
Tips for Writing Business Emails
Writing to Be Heard on LinkedIn
Among the many topics that these courses covered, I would highlight the one about outdated writing rules. Most of us learned those rules in school but have realized that they don't apply anymore to current times.
Today, the tendency is to use plain language. These rules include (1) avoiding vague words and (2) using shorter phrases and paragraphs, internal headings, bulleted lists, and plenty of white space.
Those practices are not meant to dumb down content. Plain language helps produce texts that are concise and have a clear purpose. In this digital era, people distract easily and have shorter attention spans.
Easy-to-read content has become crucial to engage busy readers!
Here are a few examples of writing rules that have become obsolete:
1. Elegant variation
While it can be tempting to use synonyms to make our writing more varied, that can actually be annoying or confusing – or both. It's best to stick to specific terms to refer to concepts and keep variation to a minimum.
2. Never begin a sentence with a conjunction
It's grammatically acceptable to begin a sentence with words like and, because, and but. Your teacher might have told you that's wrong, but there's no rule in English forbidding the use of a conjunction at the beginning of a sentence.
3. Never end a sentence with a preposition
Some writers like to use contorted phrases to avoid ending sentences with prepositions. But if nobody is using those phrases when speaking, why would we use them in writing? It's totally okay to use prepositions at the end of sentences.
4. Never use contractions in formal writing
Contractions make writing sound more natural and conversational, which makes it easier for readers to understand and engage with your content. For instance, writing can't instead of cannot doesn't take formality away.
Can you think of other examples?
Let me know in the comments!