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By: Sinead Huskisson | Posted on: 19 Apr 2021

Writing Well

Writing Well

When it comes to writing well, guidance is available on structuring reports, researching facts, and recording references accurately.


But I wondered what to do if I needed advice on the actual ‘writing’ writing?


Should I accept that some people are just good at weaving words together in lovely flowing sentences, whilst the rest of us struggle through by using a spell-checker, a grammar-checker and tried and tested clichés to help us convey our points?


I recently came across a book called “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser. It has over 300 pages of advice on improving writing. Here are three tips, that I gleaned that you might also find useful:

1. Read it aloud – this helps with ensuring clarity, sometimes hearing the words helps us ascertain how someone else would interpret our message.

2. Examine every word – many don’t serve any purpose, e.g. “in my personal opinion” should just be “in my opinion” or “very unique” should be “unique”.

3. Think carefully about how we express ourselves – use the online dictionary and thesaurus to check for meanings and synonyms. Clichés and well-worn phrases will bore our readers. Good prose is part poetry, so we should think about how our sentences flow and sound.


Let me share an example:

We want to get to the crux of the matter by not beating around the bush although by using these filler phrases and clichés we delay getting to our point (i.e. we beat around the bush).

In my own personal opinion if you want to be good at writing, you need to try and try again. Having good descriptions comes from practice and practice makes perfect! (66words)

Isn’t this better?

Sometimes, we lack the courage of our convictions and therefore don’t get to the point.

In my opinion, writing well requires practice. Delightful descriptions and perfect prose are the result of repeated redrafting! (33words)

In the second draft, I have halved the word count, got to the point more quickly, avoided clichés and used alliteration, which I hope is more appealing for the eyes as well as the ear. If William Zinsser was still alive, I think he would approve!


In case you are interested, I have been writing this blog over a 2-week period. It has been through about 5 redrafts and it has had the benefit of edits from a colleague. Yet I’m sure it could still be improved!


You may also be interested to know that MTU’s Library has the ebook of "Summary of William H. Zinsser's On Writing Well".

IRB, Media. Summary of William H. Zinsser's On Writing Well, IRB, 2021. ProQuest Ebook Central,


This summarises William’s words to 8 key insights in 26 pages and is available via the link to staff and students.


This post was writen by Sinead Huskisson. As well as lecturing Economics Sinead also provides Economics support in the Academic Learning Centre (ALC) in Munster Technological University.
In the ALC we know that learning is not "one size fits all". Everyone learns differently and at a different pace. You might feel ahead of your class in some modules and in other modules the pace might feel too quick and you'd like to take your time a bit more with the content. In the ALC we want to give every student the time and space to take control of their won learning. Each ALC session is individualised to the student and no two sessions are ever the same. If you've any questions about the service just have a look at our website  or email academiclearning@cit.ie.


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