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Erik Larson writes about the job market, resume improvement, and career advice

10 Useful Tips to Write For an International Audience

Written by Erik Larson, Community Blogger | Oct 31, 2017 2:29 AM

While it may seem like writing for an international audience would be a cakewalk, there are a lot of minor details that a writer must pay careful attention to. Even though English is an international language, does not mean that it is everyone's first language (or second, for that matter). That being said, one must understand that their text will have to go through several filters so that it is amicable for international eyes. So without further ado, here are 10 ways to customize your writing on a global scale.

Keep sentences short and simple.

Now I don't literally mean to write things such as "The dog was fast.", but the shorter you keep your sentences, the higher the attention span will be of your audience. If you are not sure exactly how to do this, you can request the help of a professional essay writer or one of the plethora of online tools made to help with this. The problem with long and drawn ought sentences is that they become dull and confusing; while shorter ones help the audience retain more information.

Use correct and consistent terminology.

Remember, the vocabulary of your audience is limited, meaning that you don't want your text to be too crafty. If you have used a word such as "improve", there is no need to include terms such as "hone", "sharpen" or "enhance" as this will only confuse a portion of your audience. If you have used a term before, don't be afraid to recycle it. After all, you aren't writing a paper for English class!

Avoid Ambiguity

Terms that have multiple meanings such as "good", "back" and "right" should be avoided when writing to an international audience. For some reason, the English language decided that one word should have 20 meanings, because well, why not? Using ambiguous terms will create confusion and there is always a more specific alternative that suits the sentence better. If you can't think of one, just use this website!

Avoid slang, jargon, sarcasm, etc.

Phrases such as "didn't make the cut", "cramming for a final", "don't be a couch potato" should be avoided at all costs. As only Americans understand these phrases, you risk the hilariousness of being looked at as if you had a third eye (there's another one right there!). Straightforward and logical terminology is your best bet. If you do decide to use some slang, make sure you appropriately define them somewhere as shown here.

List items should be complete sentences

If you are creating a set of examples, then you definitely want to explain each item in the list with its own sentence. This will eliminate any confusion in terms of comprehension. Also, instead of saying something such as: "Some really good ways to make money are:", you should alter your phrasing to: "Here are some ways to earn a profit." This will allow you to create a list with complete sentences.

Develop glossaries for specific terms

For any terminology that isn't basic knowledge, provide an index that defines all specific wordage. Keep the list under 10-15 terms as you don't want your audience continuously flipping and searching for definitions. This will not only kill their interest but will increase the difficulty of comprehending the work as a whole. Also, when defining said terms, use simple, common language to avoid further confusion.

Write in an active voice

Using passive voice may sound more formal, but it isn't better writing. Learn to use active voice for better communication. Avoid writing in passive voice because readers lose attention to the text as it does not flow as well as active voice. Convert most of your sentences into an active voice for a more coherent tone that is easier to follow and understand. For example, change the sentence: "The development of cryptocurrency is important for our virtual world" to "Cryptocurrencies development is important for our virtual world." There are several useful tools online to help you with this.

Use International Standards over USA-favored ones

Unlike the rest of the world, Americans like to have their own ways of doing things. Whether it be through inventing new sports to be the best at or using different systems of measurement for god knows what reasons, we like to stick out like a sore thumb. In any case, use international systems such as the metric system for calculations or visualizations. This will save you the trouble of explaining it in the long run!

Replace pronouns with nouns

Unfortunately, nouns tend to create confusion if the author does a poor job with sentence phrasing. Write "Bitcoin mining is a growing method of making money" instead of "It is a growing method of making money". Even though the audience will most likely be able to infer what you meant through context clues, it is much smarter to avoid any possible misunderstanding.

Humor is good, but don't overdo it.

Americans, probably more than any other nation, like to involve laughs even in rather serious conversations (just watch any Ted Talks). Don't get it twisted, humor is good, but keep it to a minimum. Most Americans have a particular sense of humor, so be careful with the jokes you try and pop into your writing. Keep it simple, serious, straightforward and most of all insightful. Do those 4 things and you will be able to intrigue even the most demanding of audiences!

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