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Orwell’s writing tips

Every once in a while, for my own benefit, and for those of you who like to write, I republish this wonderful list from George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language“, which is some of the best advice to writers you’ll ever read:

  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.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  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.


  1. Alexandre Alexandre 2008-10-09

    I especially like the last one but the list as a whole is a very appropriate description of a large part of Anglophone language ideology. Grice’s maxims are more general but they’re part of the same language culture. It’s fun to adapt to this set of principles but it’s also useful not to be limited by it.

  2. […] class of general academic mumbo-jumbo that you need to cut out of your writing right now. Go read Orwell’s rules, and then Strunk and White, and then we can talk about it again. Hint: utilize=use, militate=block, […]

  3. Hugh Hugh 2008-10-29

    that’s what #6 is for ;-)

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