Help for Writing Clear, Simple Statements
Grant writers are advised to write clear, simple statements. Here are ten writing tips aimed at keeping it simple:
- Get organized before you begin writing so you can build the proposal step-by-step, paragraph-by-paragraph, and sentence-by-sentence. The thought process of the application should be easy to follow.
- Limit each paragraph to one thought or point.
- Begin the paragraph with a sentence that makes your point. Follow with sentences that support the point. Test yourself by reading the first sentence and asking if the reviewer needs to read any further into the paragraph to get the point you are trying to make.
- Limit each paragraph to ten sentences or less.
- Strive to use simple sentences. There are three basic kinds of sentences: simple, compound, and complex. They are formed by using one or more independent and dependent clauses and phrases. An independent clause can stand alone as a sentence, while a dependent clause or a phrase cannot.
- The average sentence is comprised of 10-12 words. The National Institutes of Health advises grant writers to keep sentences to 20 words or less.
- Avoid using the words “and” and “but” to link thoughts in a sentence.
- Vary the length of sentences to create reading interest.
- To keep it short, avoid using too many prepositional phrases in a sentence (e.g., use “the agency’s programs” instead of “the programs of the agency.”
- Avoid using passive verbs such as “is, was, were, are, has, and had” that create wordiness. Example: Change this sentence –A woman crossing the street was hit by a man driving an orange convertible- to this sentence- A man driving an orange convertible hit the woman crossing the street.