Friday, July 9, 2010

Sentence Edit of the Day

This post's subtitle is "Unsaid and Understood."

Here's the sentence as it arrived in the manuscript:

It’s no secret we should try to impress the people at the reception desk, who are often asked by the hiring manager for opinions about the people who come into the office.

This article came in quite a bit over its word limit. So I was looking for things to cut. Phrases like "it's no secret," "everyone knows," and "it's widely known" are likely candidates, as are adverbs like obviously and clearly.

These terms should cause alarm bells to go off in an editor's head: Why are we stating the obvious? Worse, why are we telling readers that we're stating the obvious? In many cases, a sentence that begins with the phrase, "It's widely known that" can be cut altogether.

Needless phrases like these get in the way of clear writing.

(Then there's the passive relative clause: again, we're using too many words.)

In this case, I don't think everyone knows that it's important to make a good impression on the receptionist at a job interview. I think letting them know is worth a sentence. And here it is:

Hiring managers often ask receptionists for their take on people who come to the office for interviews.

Read "Body Language Can Make or Break a Job Interview."

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