Tips on writing for a general audience:

1.     Translate technical and professional jargon into the sort of clear, concise, and compelling prose an eighth grader can understand:

Before: “Descent was effected from the arboreal habitat by the sciurus carolinensis in order for sustenance to be ingested.”

After: “The squirrel climbed down from the tree to eat.”

        The original sentence appeared in a manuscript for a biology textbook. Developmental editor Autumn Stanley rewrote it to show authors the difference between the academic prose professors use to impress their peers and the more down-to-earth writing that students can understand.

2.     Use anecdotes, examples, and stories to bring your subject to life and make it more memorable for your reader. "Tell me a fact, and I'll learn; tell mea truth, and I'll bleieve; but tell me a story, and it will live in my heart forever." We love this example of bringing an abstract principle to life with a story the reader will not soon forget:

3.     Treat “being” verbs (“is”, for example), as if they express a specific meaning (i.e. a state of being). Lazy speakers and writers overly rely on them. You can quickly strengthen your writing style by using active verbs, which help you “show” rather than “tell” your readers what you want them to see in their mind's eye.

Before: “Jon was fast.”

After:  “Jon ran the 100 yard dash in 30 seconds.”

4.     Avoid passive constructions unless they work best for a particular sentence. Passive sentences paint a less focused picture for the reader.

Before: “The race was run by Jon”

After: “Jon ran the race.”

5.     Replace fifty-dollar words with fifty-cent, common English equivalents that the average reader can comprehend. Readers are not impressed by an expert's use of arcane language and jargon. They just think he's showing off or trying to pull the wool over their eyes.

Before: “ Jon often speaks in sesquipedalian anfractuosities.”  

After: “Jon often peppers his speech with long and unnecessarily complicated words and phrases.”

6.     Remember Blaise Pascal's apology for sending a friend a longwinded letter: “I would have made it shorter, if I'd had the time.” A good writer revises, revises, and revises again, pruning unnecessary and redundant verbiage, always following Rules 1-5 above.