How to improve your writing skills

Learn or Practice?

Learning a variety of writing skills isn’t as difficult as you may think.
Becoming a better writer takes practice, and you’re already practicing. No, seriously—you write a lot. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a writer, you put thoughts into text more often than you realize. At the very least, you write emails, post on social media, make updates to your resume and profiles and message your friends. If your job requires it, you also create things like reports, presentations, newsletters . . . it’s a long list.

So, you’re already writing. Now, improving your writing skills is just a matter of becoming conscious of the things you can do to give your text more structure and make your copy crisp and readable with a conversational style [1].

Here are some tips to guide you:

Make sure you have a clear concept.

You must understand the idea you are describing to your audience. Failing to do so means you might need more materials to go through.


Organize your thoughts.

If your topic is broad, give yourself a moment to outline the ideas. Do not rush into writing without thinking. Using a structure, a mind map or points might be a good practice.


Think like a reader but do not over-explain.

The audience should be able to understand your ideas without struggling. At the same time, avoid describing unnecessary details. They might be useful for you, but the reader won’t gain much from them.


“The fundamental purpose of scientific discourse is not
the mere presentation of information and thought but
rather its actual communication. It does not matter how
pleased an author might be to have converted all the
right data into sentences and paragraphs; it matters only
whether a large majority of the reading audience
accurately perceives what the author had in mind.”
–George Gopen and Judith Swan
The Science of Scientific Writing

Technical Writing

The well-known English instructor,  Yukiko Nakayama from Kyoto University recommend being economical with words. For sometimes, I did not understand what she means. However, after going through my manuscripts for few times, I realized that many statements could have been better in a short form and even more explicit.

Ms. Yukiko Nakayama is the representative director of U-ENGLISH corporation. She also works as a full-time lecturer at Japan Society for Technical Communication (JSTC), and as a part-time lecturer in the engineering departments of various universities in Japan, including Kyoto University. She has passed the Grade-1 EIKEN Test in Practical English Proficiency and the Level-1 English Technical Writing Test, including an honorable mention award from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Her job focuses on the revision and translation of technical manuscripts as well as patents. She also teaches technical English at various companies, universities, and technical colleges, and has written textbooks on the subject.

Yukiko gave the following example in her TEDx talk:

The gas does not have any odor.

Instead, she advises using:

The gas is odorless.

Her speech is impressive, and you will learn a lot from it.  She quoted a summary from technical writing tips:

“Use active voice.  Put statements in positive forms. Use definite, concrete language. Omit needless words. Avoid fancy words.” [2]

“Never use two words when one word will do.” [3]

Example 1: The relationship between the nature of salt water to fresh water in the Edgartown Great Pond that fluctuates often is extremely important to everyone including scientists, residents, and environmentalists on Martha’s Vineyard.

Example 2: The fluctuating salinity of EGP concerns many
environmentalists, scientists, and residents. [3]

The above statement was cut into half when delivering only the essential message.

Technical writers would prefer to communicate efficiently, and active voice is direct and eliminates unnecessary words.

Example 1 (Passive voice): The lignocellulosic material is composed of a high cellulose content, which is shielded by lignin and hemicellulose, which persist hydrolysis.

Example 2 (Active voice): The lignocellulosic material contains a high cellulose content. However, lignin and hemicellulose wraps the molecule and makes it resistant to hydrolysis.



  1. Do not be afraid of failing. English is just a language.
  2. Plan your project
  3. Understand the basics of technical writing
  4. Practice makes perfect. Keep trying
  5. Ask advice when needed




[1] Hertzberg, K. (2017, August 24). How to Improve Writing Skills in 15 Easy Steps. Retrieved May 27, 2018, from

[2] TEDx. (2015, July 06). Retrieved May 26, 2018, from

[3] Kelley, N. (2006). Sentence Structure of Technical Writing. Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies.



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