George Orwell’s Six Rules of Writing

George Orwell’s Six Rules of Writing

  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.

From Orwell’s essay “Politics and the English Language.”

Each of the following sentences violates one or more of Orwell’s rules. Try revising them, and compare your revisions with mine.

  1. At the meeting, Harold raised a great number of important questions.
  2. It is entirely possible that some of the calculations are in error.
  3. A great many children exhibit a tendency to be hyperactive.
  4. In an effort to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem, Jack has decided to tender his resignation.
  5. We have considered all the available data on hedge funds.
  6. Most of the demands made by the buyer have been met by the seller.
  7. Reducing unnecessary wordiness, in my humble opinion, will greatly enhance readability of your essay.
  8. The money we spent on upgrading the doghouse was nothing to sneeze at.
  9. Miranda was happy as a lark when she heard that she had won.
  10. The medical community indicates that downsizing average total daily intake is maximally efficacious in the field of proactive weight-reduction methodologies.


Possible revisions:


  1. At the meeting, Harold raised many important questions. 2. Some of the calculations might be wrong. 3. Many children tend to be hyperactive. 4. Jack has decided to help the operation by quitting. 5. We have considered all the data on hedge funds. 6. The seller has met most of the buyer’s demands. 7. Reducing wordiness might improve your essay’s readability. 8. We spent a lot on upgrading the doghouse. 9. Miranda was ecstatic when she heard she had won. 10. Doctors say that the best way to lose weight is to eat less.


(Sentence 10 and its revision are from the article “Logorrhea” in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia:

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