The Economist: Style

The first requirement of The Economist is that it should be readily understandable. Clarity of writing usually follows clarity of thought. So think what you want to say, then say it as simply as possible. Keep in mind George Orwell’s six elementary rules (“Politics and the English Language”, 1946):

  1. Never use a Metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do (see Short words).
  3. If it is possible to cut out a word, always cut it out (see Unnecessary words).
  4. Never use the Passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a Jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous (seeIconoclasm).

The following information comes directly from The Economist’s website. The rules are simple but it can be surprisingly difficult to strictly adhere to all of them. When writing about topics that can be highly field specific it is absolutely imperative that the writing be as simple to understand as possible. Detailed financial updates on Greece’s economy and impact on the surrounding countries must be explained in a way that captures all the information but is still accessible to a broad audience of readers. Take for example the following paragraph from The Economist.

“Use the language of everyday speech, not that of spokesmen, lawyers or bureaucrats (so prefer let to permit, people to persons, buy to purchase, colleague to peer, way out to exit, present to gift, rich to wealthy, show to demonstrate, break to violate). Pomposity and long-windedness tend to obscure meaning, or reveal the lack of it: strip them away in favour of plain words.”

It is almost surprising to learn how simple and straightforward the rules for writing for The Economist is. Style here is simplicity and telling an informative story with a minimal amount of extra noise.

http://www.economist.com/styleguide/introduction

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