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How to Write, Speak, and Think More Effectively by Rudolf Flesch

Although this book dates back to the 1950's, the fact that it is still in print is testimony to how useful it is. The author give simple and concise advice on effective communication and writing. Give this list of rules a read from time to time, to remind yourself of techniques to keep communication clear.

25 Rules of Effective Writing
1. Write about people, things, and facts.
2. Write as you talk.
3. Use contractions.
4. Use the first person.
5. Quote what was said.
6. Quote what was written.
7. Put yourself in the reader's place.
8. Don't hurt the reader's feelings.
9. Forestall misunderstandings.
10. Don't be too brief.
11. Plan a beginning, middle, and end.
12. Go from the rule to the exception, from the familiar to the new.
13. Use short names and abbreviations.
14. Use pronouns rather than repeating nouns.
15. Use verbs rather than nouns.
16. Use the active voice and a personal subject.
17. Use small, round figures.
18. Specify. Use illustrations, cases, examples.
19. Start a new sentence for each new idea.
20. Keep your sentences short.
21. Keep your paragraphs short.
22. Use direct questions.
23. Underline for emphasis.
24. Use parentheses for casual mention.
25. Make your writing interesting to look at.

Outside of the usefulness for better English, the surprising but stellar introduction "Let's Start With Chinese" is a piece I love quoting from, especially in my intro to new students of Mandarin Chinese. The author has made a beautiful summary of the history of languages, and then goes on to give a outside view of Mandarin as a language by exploring the patterns and evolution of the language. Even as a native speaker of the language, I did not understand the cultural and significant developmental differences between English and Chinese. Did you know that Chinese is 10,000 years more evolved than English? For those who are seriously taking up Mandarin, you must read the introduction. It is vital to how you learn Mandarin. It adds a dimension to your perspective.

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