My colleague Paul Drexler, a man of many many talents, has been working on improving some eLearning courses and shared some sage advice from Orwell via e-mail.
“I’ve been struggling to organize my thoughts on making these courses better. This morning an essay came to me which brilliantly describes and sums up some of these thoughts. I refer to Politics and the English Language, an essay by George Orwell, author of Animal Farm and 1984. I read this my college Freshman year and it made a deep and lasting impression. If we followed Orwell’s suggestions alone we would greatly improve our courses.”
If you want just the take away points, read Orwell’s summary below:
- Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
- Never use a long word where a short one will do.
- If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
- Never use the passive where you can use the active.
- Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
- Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.