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Tip 11: Writing in Positive Form

From Strunk & White’s Elements of Style: “Make definite assertions. Avoid tame, colorless, hesitating, noncommittal language. Use the word not as a means of denial or in antithesis, never as a means of evasion.”


Instead of this . . .

Say this . . .

He was not very often on time.

He usually came late.

She did not think that alphabetizing the emails was a sensible way to use her time.

She thought that alphabetizing the emails
was a waste of time.

Not all of the barrels had been inspected.

Some of the barrels had not been inspected.

Not coming to work on time is a bad habit.

Coming to work late is a bad habit.