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George Bernard Shaw once wrote a very long letter to a friend and ended it with the following post script: “Sorry, I didn’t have the time today to write you a short letter.”
Clean technical writing is easy if you have the time to go over what you’ve written. My experience is, almost any sentence you’ve written can be made shorter and shorter is usually (even though not always) better.
One guaranteed way to shorten your sentences is the willpower to resist using double possibilities.
Here is an example:
ORIGINAL: “Warning: If you click the YES button you may end up losing data.”
Here “if” represents the first POSSIBILITY since it depends on a condition. “May end up” is the second POSSIBILITY, which does not add anything new to the sentence.
The sentence was already conditional before the “may end up.” It remains equally possible after that.
Thus we can safely eliminate the second possibility.
BETTER: “Warning: If you click the YES button you may lose data.”