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Are You Writing Too Many Negatives Into Your Sentences?

by Robbie Hyman |

You’ve probably read news articles that started like this:

The Supreme Court today overturned a lower-court ruling that held unconstitutional a law ending the ban on trans-fats in restaurant food.

What a mess. Few readers will understand after reading that sentence whether the Court ruled in favor of trans-fats or against them. I’m still not sure exactly what the statement says—and I wrote it!

You actually have to map out a sentence like this, starting from the end. First, a law banned trans-fats in restaurants. Then another law ended that ban. Then a higher court undid that law. And on and on.

Don’t do this to your reader.

Some work-related documents are written this way:

HR is ending the practice of allowing department heads to stop project leaders from approving comp time for employees working unpaid overtime.

Re-word the statement to make it clear:

Several department heads have overturned comp time for employees who work unpaid overtime. HR is ending this practice and starting a new policy that grants project leaders the authority to approve comp time for their employees who work unpaid overtime.

© 2014 Robbie Hyman Copywriting. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Robbie Hyman Copywriting.

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